Moderation Mythbuster

Is Iran Moderating under Hassan Rouhani?

Since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers on July 14, 2015, also known as the Iran Deal, UANI has been monitoring the day-to-day actions of the Iranian regime to determine if the Iranian regime is abiding by its commitments and moderating its aggressive and threatening behavior.

A key benefit of the Iran Deal, proponents of the agreement argued, would be that it would contribute to the moderation of the Iranian regime. By tracking developments in Iran’s nuclear program, human rights situation, regional destabilizing activities, sponsorship of terrorism, and relations with the U.S., UANI’s JCPOA Accountability Tracker clearly shows that the Iranian regime has not moderated as a result of the JCPOA and has in fact adopted a more hardline approach both in its domestic and foreign policy.

To see daily Iran-related developments prior to the JCPOA, view UANI’s Rouhani Accountability Tracker.

Date Theme Event
12-06-2018
Human Rights

Iran executed 12 prisoners in Kerman Central Prison, most of them convicted of drug charges.

Iran on Thursday executed 12 prisoners in Kerman Central Prison, most of them convicted of drug charges. Four of the executed prisoners were identified as, Abdolghani Ghalandarzehi, Yaghub Ghalandarzehi, Jalil Khodabakhsh and Yousef Jalaledin, all from Iran’s ethnic Baluch minority. According to witnesses, the bodies of 12 people executed today were handed over to their families. (Iran Human Rights Monitor)

12-04-2018
Syria Conflict

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has threatened again to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has threatened again to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea. The state TV quotes Rouhani as saying on Tuesday that “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.” The strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is crucial to global energy supplies. Rouhani also pledged that the United States wouldn’t be able to prevent Iran from exporting its crude. (Associated Press)

12-04-2018
Terrorism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of ultimate responsibility for the attack tunnels, built by Hezbollah, one of which was destroyed today in the IDF's operation Northern Shield on the Lebanon border.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of ultimate responsibility for the attack tunnels, built by Hezbollah, one of which was destroyed today in the IDF's operation Northern Shield on the Lebanon border. This act is part of Iran's web of terror in the region and the world, Netanyahu said. "We are acting to prevent Iran gaining a foothold in Syria and in Lebanon." The goal of the Hezbollah tunnel, Netanyahu said, is to capture Israeli territory in the Galilee. (Jerusalem Post)

12-04-2018
Military

Iran intends to expand the range of its air-to-air missiles and has carried out very good measures in this regard, commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh says.

Iran intends to expand the range of its air-to-air missiles and has carried out very good measures in this regard, commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh says. "One of our most important programs is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition," Nasirzadeh said in an interview with Fars news agency on Tuesday. "We are after standoff missiles and ammunition and see no limitations for ourselves in this field because the Air Force should boost the country's deterrent power along with other [Armed] Forces," he added. (Press TV)

12-01-2018
Military

Iran’s navy launched a domestically made destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties, as tensions rise with arch-enemy, the United States.

Iran’s navy on Saturday launched a domestically made destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties, as tensions rise with arch-enemy, the United States. In a ceremony carried live on state television, the Sahand destroyer — which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply — joined Iran’s regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf. The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities, state television reported. (Reuters)

12-01-2018
Nuclear Program

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran's government had just test-fired a medium-range missile "that is capable of carrying multiple warheads."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that Iran's government had just test-fired a medium-range missile "that is capable of carrying multiple warheads." The ballistic missile Iran tested has the ability to hit parts of Europe and any location in the Middle East, the secretary said, which he claimed would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution that called Iran to not pursue "any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology." "We condemn these activities," Pompeo said, "and call upon Iran to cease immediately all activities relating to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons." (NBC News)

11-30-2018
Extremism

A Tehran-based agency has quietly fed propaganda through at least 70 websites to countries from Afghanistan to Russia.

A Tehran-based agency has quietly fed propaganda through at least 70 websites to countries from Afghanistan to Russia. And American firms have helped. Website Nile Net Online promises Egyptians “true news” from its offices in the heart of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, “to expand the scope of freedom of expression in the Arab world.” Until recently, Nile Net Online had more than 115,000 page-followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But its contact telephone numbers, including one listed as 0123456789, don’t work. A Facebook map showing its location dropped a pin onto the middle of the street, rather than any building. And regulars at the square, including a newspaper stallholder and a policeman, say they have never heard of the website. The reason: Nile Net Online is part of an influence operation based in Tehran. It’s one of more than 70 websites found by Reuters which push Iranian propaganda to 15 countries, in an operation that cybersecurity experts, social media firms and journalists are only starting to uncover. The sites found by Reuters are visited by more than half a million people a month, and have been promoted by social media accounts with more than a million followers. (Reuters)

11-29-2018
Military

Iran’s navy has acquired two new mini submarines designed for operations in shallow waters such as the Persian Gulf, the Iranian state TV reported.

Iran’s navy has acquired two new mini submarines designed for operations in shallow waters such as the Persian Gulf, the Iranian state TV reported on Thursday. The report said one of the mini submarines — also known as midget submarines — was dubbed Ghadir-955 and was built in 18 months. The other, a previously built Ghadir-942, took 10 months to overhaul. The subs have sonar-evading technology and can launch missiles from under water, as well as fire torpedoes and drop marine mines, the TV said. Iran began manufacturing Ghadir subs in 2005. The first was unveiled in 2007 and by 2012, five such submarines were incorporated into Iran’s navy. (Associated Press)

11-29-2018
Terrorism

An Iranian cargo plane allegedly transporting advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group was spotted flying directly from Tehran to Beirut on Thursday morning, hours before Israel allegedly conducted airstrikes on pro-Iranian targets in Syria.

An Iranian cargo plane allegedly transporting advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group was spotted flying directly from Tehran to Beirut on Thursday morning, hours before Israel allegedly conducted airstrikes on pro-Iranian targets in Syria. Israeli and American security officials have long claimed that Iran has been supplying Lebanon’s Hezbollah with advanced munitions by shipping them through ostensibly civilian airlines, including the one that flew into Lebanon on Thursday: Fars Air Qeshm. However, these cargo planes typically unload their materiel in Syria or stop there en route to Beirut, rather than flying directly into Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based. (Times of Israel)

11-29-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran is using teams of hit squads in Iraq to silence critics of Iranian attempts to meddle in Iraq’s new government, according to British security officials.

Iran is using teams of hit squads in Iraq to silence critics of Iranian attempts to meddle in Iraq’s new government, according to British security officials. The hit squads are said to have been deployed on the orders of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, with the aim of intimidating Iraqi opponents of Iranian interference in Iraqi politics. The hit squads were deployed after Iraqi general election in May, when Iranian attempts to establish a controlling influence over the new Iraqi government were stymied by the failure of Tehran-backed candidates to win sufficient votes. (Telegraph)

11-29-2018
Syria Conflict

The Trump administration accused Iran of stepping up violations of a U.N. ban on arms exports by sending rockets and other weaponry to rebels in Afghanistan and Yemen.

The Trump administration on Thursday accused Iran of stepping up violations of a U.N. ban on arms exports by sending rockets and other weaponry to rebels in Afghanistan and Yemen. The new allegations come as the U.S. ramps up pressure on Iran to halt what it calls “malign activities” in the Middle East and elsewhere by reinstating sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal from which President Donald Trump withdrew in May. Iran has denied such accusations in the past. In a presentation at a military base in Washington, the administration displayed weapons and fragments of weapons seized in Afghanistan, Bahrain and Yemen that it said are evidence Iran is a “grave and escalating threat” that must be stopped. The material was added to a collection presented by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley last December when she laid out a case for pulling out of the nuclear agreement. (Associated Press)

11-28-2018
Terrorism

Two Iranians were behind the ransomware attack that crippled Atlanta’s government for days this year, the Justice Department said in an unsealed indictment, detailing a sophisticated scheme of attacks.

Two Iranians were behind the ransomware attack that crippled Atlanta’s government for days this year, the Justice Department said in an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, detailing a sophisticated scheme of attacks on hospitals, government agencies and other organizations. The men, Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, chose targets with complex yet vulnerable systems — organizations that could afford to pay ransoms and needed to urgently restore their systems back online, prosecutors said. In the case of Atlanta, one of the most sustained and consequential cyberattacks ever launched against a major American city, the pair broke into the city’s computer systems and held their data hostage for about $51,000 worth of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, prosecutors said. (New York Times)

11-27-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran is determined to fight against US Donald Trump's anticipated Israel-Palestinian peace plan, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said according to semi-official news agency ISNA.

Iran is determined to fight against US Donald Trump's anticipated Israel-Palestinian peace plan, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday according to semi-official news agency ISNA. Trump has dubbed his administration's long-awaited plan the "ultimate deal", which has already unsettled the Palestinians although no details have yet been disclosed. Speaking in Tehran, Larijani said the "deal of the century" was a "plot" between Iran's arch foe Israel and the United States to establish the Jewish state's domination in the Middle East. "We will stand against the regime of Israel and won't let this deal take place in the region," Larijani said at an annual conference on Islamic unity. (Agence France Presse)

11-26-2018
Military

Iran says it is ready to export domestically built fighter jets after showcasing them to potential buyers during an air show on Kish Island.

Iran says it is ready to export domestically built fighter jets after showcasing them to potential buyers during an upcoming air show on Kish Island. Brigadier General Abdoklarim Banitarafi, head of Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO), made the announcement on Monday, before the air show’s opening ceremony. “We have already taken the necessary steps to export products that we are authorized to sell,” he told reporters, noting that Tehran will resume selling trainer jets as well. (Press TV)

11-24-2018
Extremism

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called Israel a “cancerous tumor” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a “cancerous tumor” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East. Iran’s leaders frequently condemn Israel and predict its demise, but Rouhani, a relative moderate, rarely employs such rhetoric. Addressing an annual Islamic Unity Conference on Saturday, Rouhani said “one of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region.” He went on to refer to Israel as a “fake regime” set up by Western countries. (Associated Press)

11-22-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran has not declared all its chemical weapons capabilities to the global chemical weapons agency in The Hague, in violation of an international non-proliferation convention, the U.S. ambassador to the organization said.

Iran has not declared all its chemical weapons capabilities to the global chemical weapons agency in The Hague, in violation of an international non-proliferation convention, the U.S. ambassador to the organization said on Thursday. Ambassador Kenneth Ward told a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that Iran had failed to report a production facility for the filling of aerial bombs and maintains a program to obtain banned toxic munitions. (Reuters)

11-20-2018
Syria Conflict

The Treasury Department on Tuesday added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria in violation of sanctions.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria in violation of sanctions. The network helps fuel the Syrian war effort of President Bashar Assad while providing revenue for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in announcing the sanctions. “The United States in its continued efforts will not allow these dirty dealings to flourish,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Tuesday. “Iran will not be allowed to exploit the international financial system to hide revenue streams it uses to fund terrorist activity.” (Associated Press)

11-15-2018
Human Rights

A U.N. committee on human rights approved a resolution urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its “alarmingly high” use of the death penalty.

A U.N. committee on human rights approved a resolution Thursday urging Iran to stop its widespread use of arbitrary detention and expressing serious concern at its “alarmingly high” use of the death penalty. The General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee adopted the resolution by a vote of 85-30, with 68 abstentions. It is virtually certain to be approved by the 193-member world body next month. The resolution “strongly urges” Iran to eliminate discrimination against women in law and practice and expresses “serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.” It singles out violations including harassment, intimidation and persecution against religious minorities including Christians, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians and members of the Baha’i faith — and urges the release of religious practitioners including Baha’i leaders. (Associated Press)

11-14-2018
Human Rights

Rights group Amnesty International condemned Iran's execution of a gold trader and his accomplice as "abhorrent" and said it followed a "grossly unfair show trial".

Rights group Amnesty International condemned Iran's execution on Wednesday of a gold trader and his accomplice as "abhorrent" and said it followed a "grossly unfair show trial". Vahid Mazloomin and accomplice Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi were executed after being found guilty of "corruption on earth", Iran's most serious capital offence, the judiciary's Mizan website said. Mazloomin had been dubbed the "Sultan of Coins" for allegedly exploiting a surge in gold demand from savers spooked by this year's currency crisis in Iran. "With these abhorrent executions the Iranian authorities have flagrantly violated international law," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa research director, Philip Luther. (Radio Farda)

11-13-2018
Terrorism

The U.S.'s lead counterterrorism envoy has accused Iran of spending $1 billion a year on supporting groups considered terrorist organizations by the U.S.

The U.S.'s lead counterterrorism envoy has accused Iran of spending $1 billion a year on supporting groups considered terrorist organizations by the U.S. Nathan A. Sales, the State Department's ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, targeted Iran in a blistering lecture given on Tuesday to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank founded by the former deputy research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He accused Tehran of propping up various militias across the region, including the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement, the Palestinian Sunni Muslim group Hamas and the Zaidi Shiite Muslim Ansar Allah militia, also known as the Houthis. "Let me give you some numbers. This may sound hard to believe, but Iran provides Hizballah alone some $700 million a year. It gives another $100 million to various Palestinian terrorist groups. When you throw in the money provided to other terrorists, the total comes close to one billion dollars," Sales said. (Newsweek)

11-07-2018
Terrorism

Three Iranians traveling with fake Israeli passports were detained in Bulgaria over the weekend, The Sofia Globe reported.

Three Iranians traveling with fake Israeli passports were detained in Bulgaria over the weekend, The Sofia Globe reported. The men were detained at the Bulgarian border as they attempted to enter the Kapitan Andreevo crossing from Turkey – a major transit point for entering Europe, the report said. It is unclear though, how they managed to travel through Turkey without being detected. The three men, aged 21, 28 and 32 arrived on October 31 and carried Israeli passports that had been “falsified,” the Interior Ministry told the Bulgarian media. They were detained by border police and then taken to a detention center in Lyubimets, in the southeast portion of the country where “fast-track proceedings” – a way to quickly deport the individuals – were initiated. (Jerusalem Post)

11-07-2018
Syria Conflict

Iranian forces in Syria may present a threat to the US and in Iraq the Iranian threat is increasing, according to a new report from the US Department of Defense.

Iranian forces in Syria may present a threat to the US and in Iraq the Iranian threat is increasing, according to a new report from the US Department of Defense. The Lead Inspector General report on Operation Inherent Resolve was released on Tuesday and reviews the US role fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.  However the quarterly report, which covers operations from July to September of this year, notes that Iran is increasingly a threat to the US and examines how Washington is now changing its posture in Syria as the mission changes. In the last several months US officials have said that American troops would remain in Syria as long as Iranian troops were also present in the country. The US is now seeking to “leverage” its influence in Syria to remove Iran. (Jerusalem Post)

11-06-2018
Human Rights

Iran’s judiciary convicted at least 24 protesters, including two women, on vaguely defined national security charges, Human Rights Watch said.

Iran’s judiciary convicted at least 24 protesters, including two women, on vaguely defined national security charges, Human Rights Watch said today. Their prison sentences ranged from six months to six years. They were among more than 50 people arrested on August 2 during a protest in Tehran about deteriorating economic conditions and corruption. Authorities also arrested a human rights lawyer who had been convicted to three years in prison for reporting a protester’s death in detention on October 28. (Al-Arabiya)

11-05-2018
Extremism

Iran greeted the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions with air defense drills and an acknowledgement from President Hassan Rouhani the nation faces a "war situation," raising Mideast tensions as America's maximalist approach to the Islamic republic takes hold.

Iran greeted the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on Monday with air defense drills and an acknowledgement from President Hassan Rouhani the nation faces a "war situation," raising Mideast tensions as America's maximalist approach to the Islamic republic takes hold. The sanctions end all the economic benefits America granted Tehran for its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord that saw it limit its enrichment of uranium. While for now not threatening to resume higher enrichment, Iranian officials in recent months have made a point to threaten that could resume at any time faster than before. The new American sanctions particularly hurt Iran's vital oil industry, a crucial source of hard currency for its anemic economy. Its national currency has plummeted over the last year, sending prices for everything from mobile phones to medicine skyrocketing. (Associated Press)

11-04-2018
Terrorism

Iran's powerful Guardian Council rejected a bill on joining the UN convention against terrorist financing seen as crucial to maintaining trade and banking ties with the world.

Iran's powerful Guardian Council on Sunday rejected a bill on joining the UN convention against terrorist financing seen as crucial to maintaining trade and banking ties with the world. The conservative-dominated council, which oversees legislation passed by the parliament, said aspects of the bill were against Islamic law and the constitution and sent it back to lawmakers for revision. "The Guardian Council has in several sessions reviewed the bill... and it has considered it to have flaws and ambiguities," wrote spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaie on Twitter. The bill, narrowly passed by parliament on October 7, is one of four put forward by the government of President Hassan Rouhani in order to meet demands set by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors countries' efforts to tackle money-laundering and terrorist financing. (Agence France Presse)

10-25-2018
Human Rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, presented his report in his first mission, in front a UN panel in New York, criticizing the increase in executions and suppressions inside the Islamic Republic.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Javid Rehman, presented his report in his first mission, in front a UN panel in New York on Wednesday, with the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union criticizing the increase in executions and suppressions inside the Islamic Republic.

Rehman, a British-Pakistani legal scholar, reported that Iran has witnessed lately a wave of protests against the economic and living conditions which the authorities tried to suppress.

Rehman called on the Iranian government to allow him to visit the country in order to assess the human rights situation through interviews with Iranian citizens and to provide information on reports provided by international human rights organizations on violations, particularly executions, torture, suppression of freedom of assembly, opinion and expression, as well as depriving religious and ethnic minorities of their fundamental rights. (Al-Arabiya)

10-24-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran was closer to developing nuclear weapons than previously thought, according to a think tank report.

Iran was closer to developing nuclear weapons than previously thought, according to a think tank report issued late Tuesday. A report by the Institute for Science and International Security said that combining new information produced by the Mossad during its January raid on a Tehran warehouse along with satellite imagery “conclusively shows that the Parchin site did house high explosive chambers capable for use in nuclear weapons research and development.” While the focus of the report is Iran’s activities up until 2003, the premise of the report and of the documents which the Mossad appropriated from a site in Tehran (which had not been disclosed to the IAEA) is that the tests performed mean Iran could be capable of building a weapon faster than previously thought. (Jerusalem Post)

10-23-2018
Syria Conflict

Illicit exports of crude oil from Iran to Syria spiked in the first two weeks of October to roughly 150,000 barrels per day (bpd), more than twice the reported high for previous two-week periods this year.

Illicit exports of crude oil from Iran to Syria spiked in the first two weeks of October to roughly 150,000 barrels per day (bpd), more than twice the reported high for previous two-week periods this year. The shipments provide a crucial lifeline for the cash-strapped Assad regime, whose persistent evasion of U.S. and EU sanctions has yet to provoke fully effective enforcement measures. New data from both Bloomberg and Tanker Trackers indicate a surge of deliveries to the Assad regime, which has maintained control of Syria’s Mediterranean ports since the outbreak of war in 2011. Bloomberg reported 143,000 bpd of deliveries in the first two weeks of October, versus 71,000 bpd for the same period in September. Tanker Trackers estimated the flow at 156,000 bpd, versus 77,000 bpd for early September. While the pace of deliveries may vary substantially during a single month, the amount already received in these two weeks is significant. Even if Syria imported no Iranian oil for the rest of October, this monthly total would represent a peak for 2018. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

10-20-2018
Terrorism

American and western intelligence sources believe Iran has been increasing its shipments of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, increasing the threat to Israel.

American and western intelligence sources believe Iran has been increasing its shipments of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, deliveries that now include Global Positioning System (GPS) components to make previously unguided rockets into precision guided-missiles, increasing the threat to Israel. One of the Iranian flights arrived in Lebanon three days ago, officials tell Fox News. Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm flight number QFZ-9950 departed Tehran International Airport on Tuesday at 9:33 a.m. local time, and flew to an unknown destination, according to flight data obtained by Fox News. Later in the day, the Boeing 747 jet touched down in Syria’s capital Damascus before continuing on to Beirut, arriving just past 2 p.m., according to the flight tracker software. On Wednesday evening, the Iranian cargo plane departed Beirut for Doha, Qatar arriving just after midnight local time, and returned to Iran’s capital Thursday at 6:31 p.m. Western intelligence sources said the Iranian cargo plane carried weapons components, including GPS devices to make precision-guided weapons in Iranian factories inside Lebanon. (Fox News)

10-16-2018
Military

Iran has extended the range of its land-to-sea ballistic missiles to 700 km (435 miles), a senior Iranian military official said amid rising tensions with the United States over Tehran’s missile program.

Iran has extended the range of its land-to-sea ballistic missiles to 700 km (435 miles), a senior Iranian military official said on Tuesday amid rising tensions with the United States over Tehran’s missile program. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, saying the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. Iran, which says its missile program is purely defensive, has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if the United States tries to strangle Iranian oil exports. “We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700 km,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ air space division, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. (Reuters)

10-13-2018
Terrorism

An Al-Qaeda-linked militant group is using Iran as its main transit point for illegal charcoal exports from Somalia, enabling the group to earn millions of dollars in profits, a report to the UN Security Council seen by media says.

An Al-Qaeda-linked militant group is using Iran as its main transit point for illegal charcoal exports from Somalia, enabling the group to earn millions of dollars in profits, a report to the UN Security Council seen by media says. According to a report cited by AFP and Reuters on October 12, since March, the main destination for the illegal shipments has been ports in Iran, where the charcoal is packaged into white bags labelled "Product of Iran." The United Nations has banned Somali charcoal imports since 2012 to cut sources of revenue for Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate that generates revenues for its Islamist insurgency by levying taxes on charcoal production in the regions it controls. The UN estimates that, despite UN sanctions banning such exports, Somalia produced some 3.6 million bags of charcoal in 2017 for export, generating some $7.5 million in revenue for Al-Shabaab. (RFE/RL)

10-12-2018
Syria Conflict

The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Iran will give a crushing response to any threat to its security even if it requires extraterritorial operations.

The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Iran will give a crushing response to any threat to its security even if it requires extraterritorial operations.

“Iran will never avoid giving response [to threats] beyond its borders if its security is put in danger,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari told Yemen’s al-Masirah TV on Friday.

General Jafari also referred to US President Donald Trump’s claim that his administration has decreased the Islamic Republic’s power, and said, “If in the past we could defend the Southwest Asia … in 12 minutes, we can do it now in a shorter time.”

The Iranian commander’s remarks came after Trump claimed on Tuesday Iran planned to take control of the Middle East in just “12 minutes.” (Press TV)

10-09-2018
Terrorism

Criminal networks are using Iran as a transit point for illicit Somali charcoal exports that earn Islamist militants al Shabaab millions of dollars annually in tax, U.N. sanctions monitors said in a report seen by Reuters.

Criminal networks are using Iran as a transit point for illicit Somali charcoal exports that earn Islamist militants al Shabaab millions of dollars annually in tax, U.N. sanctions monitors said in a report seen by Reuters.

In the unpublished annual report to the U.N. Security Council, the monitors add that domestic revenue generation by al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab “is more geographically diversified and systematic” than that of Somalia’s federal government.

The report says that since March the main destination for shipments - using fake country of origin certificates from Comoros, Ivory Coast and Ghana - has been ports in Iran, where the charcoal is packaged into white bags labeled “Product of Iran”.

“The bags were then reloaded onto smaller, Iran-flagged dhows (boats), and exported to Port Al Hamriya, Dubai, UAE, using certificates of origin falsely indicating the ‘country of manufacture’ of the charcoal as Iran,” the monitors wrote. (Reuters)

10-09-2018
Terrorism

A network of Hezbollah hackers posed as attractive women on social media to dupe users into downloading dangerous software, allowing them to hack into mobile devices across the world.

A network of Hezbollah hackers used old tricks on social media to hack into mobile devices across the world. Posing as attractive girls on Facebook, they would contact users and start chatting. After steering the conversation to increasingly sensual topics, the profiles would then ask the user to install a ‘more private and secure application‘.

According to the counterintelligence service’s press release, some impassioned users, mostly men, would comply and install the app. Unaware that it gave hackers access to their sensitive information, including contacts, photographs, calls, text messages, GPS data and the option to secretly record the owner via the mobile device.

The hacking attacks through servers placed in the Czech Republic, the wider EU and the US, originated from the middle east. They were aimed at various regions across the world including Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East itself. (Radio Praha)

10-02-2018
Syria Conflict

The United States accused Iran of recklessly firing missiles into southern Syria, an area where American troops are operating, but said the missiles did not come close to hitting U.S. forces.

The United States on Tuesday accused Iran of recklessly firing missiles into southern Syria, an area where American troops are operating, but said the missiles did not come close to hitting U.S. forces. A Pentagon statement called the Monday attack “reckless, unsafe and escalatory.” The U.S. would not say precisely where the barrage of six missiles landed in relation to U.S. troops, but a spokesman said they were never in direct danger of being hit. (Washington Examiner)

10-02-2018
Terrorism

French police detained three people and seized weapons during raids of a dozen homes.

French police detained three people and seized weapons during raids of a dozen homes and the headquarters of a Muslim association based outside the port city of Dunkirk during an anti-terrorism operation early Tuesday, officials said. Authorities froze the funds of the Centre Zahra France, along with those of three other organizations and four men linked to the groups. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the prefecture of the region was in the process of closing the prayer room of Zahra France, headquartered in Grande-Synthe. He said the three detained were taken in for illegal weapons possession. Police didn’t say what types of weapons were found. About 200 police officers searched homes and the headquarters of the association. Some French media reports said that Zahra France was a leading center for Shiite Islam in Europe and is suspected of links to Iranian-backed Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, and to the Palestinian Hamas. The information couldn’t be immediately confirmed. (Times of Israel)

10-02-2018
Human Rights

Iran has executed a female victim of domestic and sexual violence who was convicted of killing her husband when she was a minor following a 2014 “grossly unfair trial,” according to Amnesty International.

Iran has executed a female victim of domestic and sexual violence who was convicted of killing her husband when she was a minor, according to Amnesty International. The execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand is "profoundly unjust and shows the Iranian authorities' contempt for the right of children to life," the London-based human rights watchdog said on October 2. A statement said the 24-year-old was hanged early in the day in Urumieh central prison in West Azerbaijan province. An ethnic Kurd, Sekaanvand was 15 when she married her husband, according to Amnesty, and she was sentenced to death in October 2014 following a "grossly unfair trial" for allegedly stabbing him to death. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty)

09-29-2018
Military

The Iranian Navy on Saturday boasted that it possessed airships capable of carrying out the swiftest missile strikes in the world against enemy targets.

The Iranian Navy on Saturday boasted that it possessed airships capable of carrying out the swiftest missile strikes in the world against enemy targets. The commander of the Iranian Navy’s Airborne Unit General Pilot Mansour Rouh Ol-Amini told the Fars News Agency that the country had “two models of BH7 and SRN6 airships and they have given us the capacity to declare that we now have the swiftest missile platforms that can fly at a high-speed and leave the region after fire.” (Times of Israel)

09-29-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s state TV has broadcast footage purporting to show a close encounter between the Revolutionary Guard’s navy and the USS Theodore Roosevelt early this year.

Iran’s state TV has broadcast footage purporting to show a close encounter between the Revolutionary Guard’s navy and the USS Theodore Roosevelt early this year. PressTV’s website says the encounter occurred March 21 in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea. The TV agency says the video was aired Saturday as part of a documentary. The footage is likely meant as a show of strength amid new U.S. sanctions on Iran and the Trump administration plans to bring Iranian oil exports down to zero. In the video, Guard speedboats are seen closing in on the U.S. carrier. (Associated Press)

09-28-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to respect Tehran’s “red lines” or face retaliation, as the United States and its Gulf allies increase pressure on Tehran to curb its regional influence.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Friday to respect Tehran’s “red lines” or face retaliation, as the United States and its Gulf allies increase pressure on Tehran to curb its regional influence. Iran accuses Saudi Arabia and the UAE of funding five gunmen who attacked a military parade in Iran on Sept. 22 and killed 25 people, 12 of them members of the elite Guards. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have denied any involvement. The Revolutionary Guards have vowed to exact “deadly and unforgettable” vengeance. “If you cross our red lines, we will surely cross yours. You know the storm the Iranian nation can create,” the Fars news agency quoted Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guards, as saying. (Reuters)

09-27-2018
Terrorism

The Israeli military released a video clip and photos of what it said were Hezbollah Shi’ite militia rocket building sites in Lebanon.

The Israeli military on Thursday released a video clip and photos of what it said were Hezbollah Shi’ite militia rocket building sites in Lebanon. The images were distributed minutes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that Israel had evidence that Iran was helping Hezbollah give its missiles precision-guided accuracy. “In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles, missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of 10 metres (yards),” he said. (Reuters)

09-27-2018
Syria Conflict

A US intelligence assessment has concluded that Iranian-backed militias and proxy forces could be planning a strike against US military forces or interests in the Middle East, according to three defense officials.

A US intelligence assessment conducted in recent days has concluded that Iranian-backed militias and proxy forces could be planning a strike against US military forces or interests in the Middle East, according to three defense officials. Officials emphasize their concern centers around the threat from those militias located in Syria and several other locations in the Middle East. They all describe the potential threat as ongoing and worrisome. However, they would not describe the specific intelligence that continues to be gathered. These militias have increased access to ballistic missile and other advanced weapons inventories as Iran continues to move weaponry into Syria. While there are no specific indicators of an Iranian attack, the concerns stem in part from Iran's statements that the US was one of the countries behind an attack on an Iranian military parade this month that killed at least 29 people. (CNN)

09-25-2018
Syria Conflict

An Iranian media outlet close to the hard-line Revolutionary Guard published a video threatening missile attacks on the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, further raising tensions after a weekend militant attack on an Iranian military

An Iranian media outlet close to the hard-line Revolutionary Guard published a video Tuesday threatening missile attacks on the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, further raising tensions after a weekend militant attack on an Iranian military parade. The video, in a tweet by the semi-official Fars news agency that was later deleted, comes as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for the attack in the city of Ahvaz on Saturday, which killed at least 24 people and wounded over 60. Saudi Arabia adamantly rejected the allegations. The threat amplifies the unease felt across the Persian Gulf, as Iran’s economy reels in the wake of America’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and Saudi and Emirati forces are bogged down in their war against Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen. (The Associated Press)

09-25-2018
Syria Conflict

Bahrain's attorney general charged nearly 170 people on Tuesday with forming a Shiite "terrorist organisation" named for Lebanon's famed militant group Hezbollah.

Bahrain's attorney general charged nearly 170 people on Tuesday with forming a Shiite "terrorist organisation" named for Lebanon's famed militant group Hezbollah. The small but strategic Gulf Arab kingdom has been dogged by persistent low-level violence since 2011 when its Sunni minority rulers bloodily suppressed Shiite-led protests for a constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister. The authorities have repeatedly accused Shiite Iran and it allies, including Hezbollah, of fomenting the unrest. Iran denies the charge. Attorney general Ahmad al-Hamadi said 169 people, 111 of whom are in custody, will be tried for "forming a terrorist organisation... under the name Bahrain Hezbollah" in collaboration with the Iranian intelligence services. (Agence France Presse)

09-21-2018
Military

Iran’s air force is carrying out a drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea, the country’s official IRNA news agency said.

Iran’s air force is carrying out a drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea, the country’s official IRNA news agency said Friday. The drill involves the military’s and Revolutionary Guard fighter jets, including U.S.-made F-4, French Mirage and Russian Sukhoi-22 planes, the report said, adding that five logistics and combat helicopters are also taking part in the exercise over the Persian Gulf waters and the Sea of Oman. IRNA said the maneuver is a warning to Iran’s enemies that they face a quick, “stern response” in case of any ill-will toward Iran. (Associated Press)

09-20-2018
Syria Conflict

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that his group is getting precision rockets despite Israeli actions to cut smuggling routes through Syria.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday that his group is getting precision rockets despite Israeli actions to cut smuggling routes through Syria. Israel on Monday attacked a facility near the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, which it said was used by the Syrian military to transfer weapons manufacturing systems to Iran and Hezbollah. "No matter what you do to cut the route, the matter is over and the resistance possesses precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities," Nasrallah said, addressing Israel in a broadcast speech. (Ha’aretz)

09-20-2018
Terrorism

Iran continues to wreak havoc in the Middle East by allowing Al Qaeda to maintain a "facilitation base" within the Islamic Republic's borders, according to the U.S State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism.

Iran continues to wreak havoc in the Middle East by allowing Al Qaeda to maintain a "facilitation base" within the Islamic Republic's borders, according to the U.S State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism. The report, released this week, reinforces assessments published in years past that not only does Iran enable Al Qaeda to conduct global operations from within its borders, but also remains "unwilling to bring to justice senior Al Qaeda members residing in Iran and has refused to publicly identify the members in its custody.” “This has been known within the U.S. intelligence community for years. Although Iran and Al Qaeda are at odds in Syria and Yemen, the Iranian regime has allowed this 'core pipeline' to exist since well before Osama bin Laden's death,” said Tom Joscelyn, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), and Senior Editor of the Long War Journal. (Fox News)

09-19-2018
Terrorism

The United States has once again named Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of fueling conflicts and undermining governments throughout the Middle East.

The United States has once again named Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of fueling conflicts and undermining governments throughout the Middle East. An annual survey on global terrorism, released by the State Department on September 19, said Iran and its proxies are responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in the region. "Designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2017, including support for Lebanese Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East," the report said. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

09-18-2018
Terrorism

An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of U.S. sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said, warning further attacks remain possible as America re-imposes others on Tehran.

An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of U.S. sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America re-imposes others on Tehran. While the firm FireEye says the so-called "spear-phishing" email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia. The firm warns that raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran's oil industry in early November. A grand jury has indicted 12 Russian nationals for computer hacking aimed at interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. "Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack," Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press. (Associated Press)

09-15-2018
Human Rights

Iranian media are reporting that the country's General Prosecutor has ordered the closure of a reformist newspaper on charges of insulting the Shiite religion.

Iranian media are reporting that the country's General Prosecutor has ordered the closure of a reformist newspaper on charges of insulting the Shiite religion. The Friday reports say that the "Sedayeh Eslahat" newspaper was ordered shut down for publishing an article on female-to-male gender reassignment surgery. The prosecutor, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, ordered the editor be punished, too, the reports said. On Thursday, a headline on the newspaper's front page read: "Ruqayyah became Mahdi after 22 years." (Associated Press)

09-13-2018
Syria Conflict

The chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said that Tehran’s missile attack on an Iranian Kurdish rebel base in northern Iraq last week was a warning to hostile powers, Iranian state television reported.

The chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Thursday that Tehran’s missile attack on an Iranian Kurdish rebel base in northern Iraq last week was a warning to hostile powers, Iranian state television reported. The Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community. “The attack against the terrorists in Iraq’s Kurdistan conveys a message to the enemies, particularly those superpowers who think they can impose their evil plots on Iran and bully us,” state TV quoted Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying. Iran has repeatedly threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes if attacked by the United States and its regional allies. “All those who have forces, bases and equipment within a 2,000 km (1,200 mile) radius should know that our missiles are highly precise.” (Reuters)

09-11-2018
Extremism

The White House said Iranian-backed militias in Iraq had carried out “life-threatening attacks” against the U.S. consulate in Basra and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and warned Washington would hold Tehran responsible if there are future assaults.

The White House said Iranian-backed militias in Iraq had carried out “life-threatening attacks” against the U.S. consulate in Basra and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and warned Washington would hold Tehran responsible if there are future assaults. “The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States government facilities,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday. “America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.” The statement followed an attack on Saturday in which several rockets were fired at the Basra airport, where the U.S. consulate is located. At least one rocket also was fired at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy is based, and mortar fire also struck the Green Zone earlier in the week. No Americans were injured and no U.S. property was hit in the attacks. (Wall Street Journal)

09-10-2018
Extremism

A top Iranian military leader, warned that Iran is plotting strikes outside of its own borders and will even go "beyond the seas" to carry out attacks on those it perceives as enemies.

A top Iranian military leader warned on Monday that Iran is plotting strikes outside of its own borders and will even go "beyond the seas" to carry out attacks on those it perceives as enemies, statements that further highlight Iran's clandestine operations inside the United States and in Europe. "We warn the enemies of the Islamic Revolution that if they make an aggression against the Islamic Iran, we will chase and punish them not only outside the borders but also beyond the seas," General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top aide to Iran's Supreme Leader, was quoted as saying on Monday in remarks in Tehran. (Washington Free Beacon)

09-09-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for a missile attack targeting an Iraqi base of a Kurdish separatist group.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Sunday claimed responsibility for a missile attack targeting an Iraqi base of a Kurdish separatist group. Iranian state television aired footage of surface-to-surface missiles launching Saturday toward the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan base in Iraq, as well as drone footage of the base in the aftermath of the strike, which the separatists say killed at least 11 people and wounded 50. The footage’s release appeared to be a stark warning by the Guard to the separatist group, known by the acronym PDKI, which has resumed hit-and-run attacks in Iran after some two decades of uneasy peace. A Kurdish attack in July killed at least 10 Iranian border guards, likely sparking the Guard’s show of force. (Associated Press)

09-09-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran has completed a facility to build advanced centrifuges, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying, as Tehran prepares to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity if the nuclear deal collapses after the United States exits.

Iran has completed a facility to build advanced centrifuges, Iran’s nuclear chief was quoted on Sunday as saying, as Tehran prepares to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity if the nuclear deal collapses after the United States exits. In June, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the facility at the Natanz nuclear plant would be completed within a month. Salehi’s statement in June came days after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered preparations to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity if the nuclear agreement with world powers collapsed. On Sunday, the official news agency IRNA quoted Salehi as saying: “(Ayatollah Khamenei) had ordered us to set up and complete a very advanced hall for the construction of modern centrifuges, and this hall has now been fully equipped and set up.” (Reuters)

09-08-2018
Human Rights

Iran says it has executed three Iranian Kurds accused of belonging to a militant group and taking part in attacks against civilians and security forces in western Iran.

Iran says it has executed three Iranian Kurds accused of belonging to a militant group and taking part in attacks against civilians and security forces in western Iran. The executions reportedly took place despite calls by UN human rights special rapporteurs Javaid Rehman and Agnes Callamard, who said in a statement on September 7 that the men had not been given a fair trial. Amnesty International said the men had been denied access to their lawyers after being arrested and had said they were tortured into making confessions. "We are horrified by the news that the Iranian authorities have executed these men, despite widespread condemnation of their death sentences and calls from UN human rights experts and other bodies to halt their executions," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a September 8 statement. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

09-08-2018
Syria Conflict

Authorities in Bahrain say they've arrested 14 Iranians they allege entered the island nation on "forged Asian passports."

Authorities in Bahrain say they've arrested 14 Iranians they allege entered the island nation on "forged Asian passports." Bahrain's Interior Ministry made the announcement Saturday night, saying those arrested paid for the Asian passports in cash to be able to enter the island off Saudi Arabia. The statement did not identify those arrested, nor did it offer a motive for their entry into Bahrain. (Associated Press)

09-06-2018
Extremism

An Israeli cybersecurity firm announced Thursday it had uncovered three Iran-run fake Hebrew and Arabic news sites targeting Israelis, as well as a score of fake social media accounts.

An Israeli cybersecurity firm announced Thursday it had uncovered three Iran-run fake Hebrew and Arabic news sites targeting Israelis, as well as a score of fake social media accounts. ClearSky said one of the sites is the Hebrew-language Tel Aviv Times, which engages in “distorting news,” and the other two are Arabic language news outlets that promote the Islamic Republic. It also said there were 14 fake Facebook profiles and 11 fake Twitter accounts that were part of this Iranian “infrastructure,” which have thousands of followers between them, though many of them closed down after being uncovered by ClearSky, the company said. (Times of Israel)

09-05-2018
Human Rights

With four more Iranian human rights defenders arrested in Tehran since August 31, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the country’s authorities have "ramped up" their crackdown against activists.

With four more Iranian human rights defenders arrested in Tehran since August 31, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the country’s authorities have "ramped up" their crackdown against activists. "The most reputable rights defenders, who have stepped up to be the messenger for millions of Iranians' discontent, are now in jail," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said in a statement on September 5. The New York-based watchdog called on the authorities to immediately release the jailed human rights defenders, saying they appear to have been arrested "solely for peaceful dissent." (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

09-05-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran will begin uranium enrichment beyond previous levels if the remaining parties fail to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal, its Atomic Energy Organisation told local media on Wednesday.

Iran will begin uranium enrichment beyond previous levels if the remaining parties fail to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal, its Atomic Energy Organisation told local media on Wednesday. "We will not return to previous levels if our counterparts leave the JCPOA (nuclear deal), but will instead reach even more advanced levels," the organisation's spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, quoted by state broadcaster IRIB. "We are at a considerably more advanced status than when we signed the deal. The country is moving ahead in nuclear activities at a favourable pace," he added. (Agence France Presse)

09-04-2018
Human Rights

Iranian authorities have detained Reza Khandan, the husband of prominent jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Iranian authorities have detained Reza Khandan, the husband of prominent jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Khandan's arrest early on September 4 comes just hours after he raised concerns in a Facebook post about human rights violations in Iran, including the imprisonment of human rights defenders and the prosecution of women who have campaigned against the Islamic hijab. Khandan has publicly campaigned for the release of his wife, who was arrested in June. A source who did not want to be named told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that charges against Khandan include acting against national security and promoting "anti-hijab" activities. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

09-03-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said at the start of a visit to Damascus that “terrorists must be purged” from Syria’s Idlib and the entire northwestern province returned to government control.

Iran’s foreign minister said at the start of a visit to Damascus on Monday that “terrorists must be purged” from Syria’s Idlib and the entire northwestern province returned to government control. Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments in Damascus were reported by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency and came as Syrian forces and their allies are preparing for an assault on Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in the country. “Syria’s territorial integrity should be safeguarded and all tribes and groups, as one society, should start the reconstruction process, and the refugees should return to their homes,” Zarif said. (Associated Press)

09-03-2018
Terrorism

An Iranian aviation company is suspected of smuggling arms into Lebanon.

An Iranian civil aviation company is suspected of smuggling arms into Lebanon, destined for the militant group Hezbollah and Iranian weapons factories -- and western intelligence sources said Monday they've uncovered the unexpected routes that Iran apparently took to try avoiding detection. The sources identified two rare and unusual Qeshm Fars Air flights from Tehran to the international airport in Beirut during the past two months. The first flight, on July 9, involved a Boeing 747 that departed from an air force base in Tehran, stopped for a short layover at the international airport in Damascus, Syria, and then continued with a rather “uncharacteristic flight path” to the Beirut international airport, where it landed shortly after 4 p.m. local time. According to flight data obtained by Fox News, the route passed over northern Lebanon, not following any commonly used flight path. A regional intelligence source who asked to remain anonymous said: “The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down.” (Fox News)

09-01-2018
Military

Iran plans to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted a senior Defence Ministry official as saying.

Iran plans to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted a senior Defence Ministry official as saying on Saturday. News of the military development plans came a day after Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen, following the U.S. pullout from Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers. State media also reported the launch earlier this week of war games involving some 150,000 volunteer Basij militia members, who vowed to defend the Islamic state against “foreign threats” including its arch foe, the United States. (Reuters)

08-31-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.

Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said. Any sign that Iran is preparing a more aggressive missile policy in Iraq will exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington, already heightened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. It would also embarrass France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the three European signatories to the nuclear deal, as they have been trying to salvage the agreement despite new U.S. sanctions against Tehran. According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials said it was helping those groups to start making their own. (Reuters)

08-30-2018
Syria Conflict

Satellite photos purported to show the establishment of an Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria, raising fresh concerns over the extent of the two countries’ military cooperation on Israel’s northern border.

Satellite photos published Thursday purported to show the establishment of an Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria, raising fresh concerns over the extent of the two countries’ military cooperation on Israel’s northern border. The photos, which were taken by ImageSat International and published by Channel 10 news, were said to show a facility outside Wadi Jahannam in northwest Syria resembling Iran’s Parchin facility, which has been linked to the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Beyond noting an apparent surge in construction work at the site and the building’s seeming similarity to Parchin, Channel 10 did not say how it was identified as a missile factory. (Times of Israel)

08-30-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iran's most senior general has threatened to shut down the world's busiest oil chokepoint if the U.S. manages to completely cut his country's oil and gas trade.

Iran's most senior general has threatened to shut down the world's busiest oil chokepoint if the U.S. manages to completely cut his country's oil and gas trade. Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the head of the Iranian military's chief of staff, told naval commanders of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards force Thursday that the entire third of the world's oil that passes through the Persian Gulf's Strait of Hormuz would be stopped in the event that President Donald Trump's policies succeeded in reducing Iran's oil exports to zero, according to the semi-official Mehr News Agency. Trump has abandoned a historic nuclear deal with Iran and has reimposed unilateral sanctions intended to strangle the Shiite Muslim revolutionary's economy. (Newsweek)

08-29-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran could abandon its nuclear accord with world powers after the U.S. withdrawal if it does not serve its interests, casting doubt on negotiations with European countries to salvage the deal.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran could abandon its nuclear accord with world powers after the U.S. withdrawal if it does not serve its interests, casting doubt on negotiations with European countries to salvage the deal. “The nuclear deal is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by his official website on Wednesday. He said Tehran should “give up hope” on Europe to save the deal. (Reuters)

08-28-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran will maintain its military presence in Syria despite U.S. pressure for its withdrawal, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday, revealing more details about a military cooperation deal that Tehran and Damascus signed this week.

Iran will maintain its military presence in Syria despite U.S. pressure for its withdrawal, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday, revealing more details about a military cooperation deal that Tehran and Damascus signed this week. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami visited Damascus on Saturday for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and senior military officials. He signed a deal for military cooperation in a meeting with his Syrian counterpart, but details of the accord were not revealed. “The continued presence of Iranian (military) advisers in Syria was part of this military cooperation agreement between Tehran and Damascus,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Tehran’s military attache to Damascus, Abolqassem Alinejad, as saying. (Reuters)

08-28-2018
Extremism

An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages.

An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages. Facebook and other companies said last week that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries. A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. U.S.-based cyber security firm FireEye Inc and Israeli firm ClearSky reviewed Reuters’ findings and said technical indicators showed the web of newly-identified sites and social media accounts - called the International Union of Virtual Media, or IUVM - was a piece of the same campaign, parts of which were taken down last week by Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc. (Reuters)

08-26-2018
Human Rights

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a detained British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to five years in jail in Iran, was returned to prison after a request to extend her three-day temporary release was rejected, her husband said.

A detained British-Iranian aid worker sentenced to five years in jail in Iran was returned to prison on Sunday after a request to extend her three-day temporary release was rejected, her husband said. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she was heading back to Britain with her two-year-old daughter after a family visit. She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News. (Reuters)

08-25-2018
Terrorism

Hackers linked with the Iranian government are targeting universities and academic institutions around the world as part of a major campaign to steal unpublished research and obtain intellectual property, security researchers have revealed.

Hackers linked with the Iranian government are targeting universities and academic institutions around the world as part of a major campaign to steal unpublished research and obtain intellectual property, security researchers have revealed. Cyber experts from IT firm Secureworks discovered the attacks, which they believe stem from the Cobalt Dickens group operating out of Iran. The hackers targeted 76 universities located in 14 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (The Independent)

08-23-2018
Extremism

Google said that it had removed 58 accounts on its various services that it found had connections to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Iran's state media organization.

Iran's covert social media-based propaganda campaign extended to Google and its video platform YouTube, the company said Thursday. Google said that it had removed 58 accounts on its various services that it found had connections to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Iran's state media organization. The U.S. blacklisted IRIB in 2013 as part of its efforts to force the country to stop its nuclear program. The search company is at least the third Silicon Valley firm this week to say it had found evidence of an Iran-based effort to use fake names to push political content to people in the U.S. and other countries. Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that they had removed such accounts. (NBC News)

08-22-2018
Military

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it will continue increasing the country’s defensive capabilities and will not surrender to pressure over its missile program.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Wednesday it will continue increasing the country’s defensive capabilities, and will not surrender to pressure over its missile program. “(Iran’s) missile program has turned into the main challenge of the enemies of the Iranian nation, especially the United States, the Zionist regime (of Israel) and the Saudi rulers," the IRGC said in a statement carried by the Tasnim news agency. “Increasing defensive capabilities will remain the main strategy of the armed forces.” (Reuters)

08-22-2018
Terrorism

The U.S. has charged two alleged agents of Iran, accusing them of conducting covert surveillance of Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States and collecting intelligence on Americans linked to a political organization.

The U.S. has charged two alleged agents of Iran, accusing them of conducting covert surveillance of Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States and collecting intelligence on Americans linked to a political organization that wants to see the current Iranian government overthrown. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington says the pair with links to both Iran and California were involved in conducting surveillance last year on several Jewish centers, specifically Hillel Center and Rohr Chabad Center in Chicago. Charged were Ahmadreza (ahmad-RAY-zuh) Doostdar (DOOS-dar) and Majid (mah-JEED) Ghorbani (gore-BAH-nee). They also are accused of working to penetrate an Iranian dissident group in the United States and sending intelligence and photographs of individuals attending the group's rallies back to Tehran. (Associated Press)

08-21-2018
Military

Iran revealed what is said was its first-ever domestic fighter jet in a show of force that appeared to be aimed at the US amid increasing tensions over Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran.

Iran revealed what is said was its first-ever domestic fighter jet on Tuesday in a show of force that appeared to be aimed at the US amid increasing tensions over Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was pictured in the cockpit of the new “Kowsar” fourth-generation fighter at the National Defence Industry exhibition in the Iranian capital. The photos and reports of the new fighter jet were widely circulated by Iranian state media and regime-aligned outlets. State media said the jet has “advanced avionics” and a multi-purpose radar. It claimed it was "100-percent indigenously made" for the first time in Iranian history. (The National)

08-21-2018
Extremism

Facebook said it had removed hundreds of Iran-based pages, groups and accounts, alleging that they formed a network linked to Iranian state media that covertly spread political content to people on four continents including in the U.S.

Facebook said on Tuesday it had removed hundreds of Iran-based pages, groups and accounts, alleging that they formed a network linked to Iranian state media that covertly spread political content to people on four continents including in the U.S. Facebook said in a blog post that the 652 pages, groups and accounts were in violation of its terms of service because they were engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." Facebook generally requires people to use their real names on the social network. Twitter followed suit, saying it had suspended 284 accounts for engaging in "coordinated manipulation" on its network and that many of the accounts had originated in Iran. (NBC News)

08-20-2018
Human Rights

An Iranian journalist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “insulting” an imam from the ninth century on Twitter, his lawyer told local media on Monday.

An Iranian journalist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “insulting” an imam from the ninth century on Twitter, his lawyer told local media on Monday. Mir Mohammad-Hossein Mir-Esmaili, a journalist for the Jahan-e Sanat daily, was arrested while trying to leave the country in April 2017. It followed a Twitter post in which he said Imam Reza, one of the 12 revered figures in Iran’s dominant strand of Shiite Islam, was “one of us,” implying that he would have allowed young people to enjoy themselves. (AFP)

08-17-2018
Human Rights

An Iranian news outlet focusing on Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish minority says two of its editors have received lengthy prison sentences for involvement in anti-government protests in February.

An Iranian news outlet focusing on Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish minority says two of its editors have received lengthy prison sentences for involvement in anti-government protests in February. In a tweet posted Thursday, Majzooban Noor said a Tehran Revolutionary court sentenced news editor Reza Entesari to seven years in prison, 74 lashes, two years of exile in the northeastern city of Khaf, a two-year ban on leaving the country and a two-year ban on political and media activity. In an earlier tweet published Wednesday, the news outlet said another of its editors, Mostafa Abdi, received an even tougher punishment from a Tehran Revolutionary court. It said Abdi was sentenced to 26 years and three months in prison and 148 lashes, in addition to two years of exile in the southeastern province of Sistan Baluchistan and two-year bans on leaving the country and engaging in political and media activity. (Voice of America)

08-17-2018
Human Rights

Forty young people have been detained at a mixed-gender “night party” in Birjand, the capital city of South Khorasan province, the local Prosecutor General has disclosed.

Forty young people have been detained at a mixed-gender “night party” in Birjand, the capital city of South Khorasan province, the local Prosecutor General has disclosed. The detainees are 20-30-year old, the Islamic Republic’s official News Agency, IRNA, cited the Prosecutor as saying. “The detainees, sixteen males and 24 females, were arrested and charged with drinking and storing alcoholic beverages, as well as other social misconduct”, said Ahmad Reza A’rab Sheibanei. (Radio Farda)

08-16-2018
Terrorism

A recent report by the United Nations indicates that terror group al Qaeda is having a resurgence around the world due in part to help from Iran.

A recent report by the United Nations indicates that terror group al Qaeda is having a resurgence around the world due in part to help from Iran. The report was delivered to the Security Council this week, Fox News reports, and said one of the world's biggest threats will come from al Qaeda under the leadership of Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's son. Al Qaeda has grown mostly in Somalia, Yemen, and South Asia, where it has a stronger presence than ISIS. The report also says that Iran is allowing al Qaeda leader Aiman al-Zawahiri to work and coordinate efforts from their country, as noted by the Tower. (Washington Free Beacon)

08-13-2018
Politics

Iran’s supreme leader made his sharpest criticism yet of his country’s president on Monday, faulting him for having crossed “red lines” in nuclear negotiations with the United States and other failures that have created an economic crisis.

Iran’s supreme leader made his sharpest criticism yet of his country’s president on Monday, faulting him for having crossed “red lines” in nuclear negotiations with the United States and other failures that have created an economic crisis. The remarks by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, compounded the pressure on Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who is contending with economic protests, anger over endemic corruption, the threat of possible armed conflict with the United States and calls from Iran’s hard-line factions for resignations in his government. Mr. Rouhani’s promises that the 2015 nuclear agreement reached with the United States and other world powers would lead to an economic revival in Iran have been thwarted since the Trump administration renounced the agreement in May and moved to restore American sanctions. (New York Times)

08-13-2018
Military

Iran unveiled a next generation short-range ballistic missile on Monday and vowed to further boost its capabilities, Iranian media said, at a time of rising tensions with the United States.

Iran unveiled a next generation short-range ballistic missile on Monday and vowed to further boost its capabilities, Iranian media said, at a time of rising tensions with the United States. State broadcaster IRIB said the new Fateh Mobin missile had "successfully passed its tests" and could strike targets on land and sea. "As promised to our dear people, we will not spare any effort to increase the missile capabilities of the country and we will certainly increase our missile power every day," Defence Minister Amir Hatami said, quoted by conservative news agency Tasnim. (AFP)

08-11-2018
Human Rights

An Iran-based human rights group says dozens of Iranian security personnel have raided a prison ward housing minority Sunni inmates in the city of Karaj, beating the prisoners and taking their belongings.

An Iran-based human rights group says dozens of Iranian security personnel have raided a prison ward housing minority Sunni inmates in the city of Karaj, beating the prisoners and taking their belongings. In a report published Thursday, Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) said it learned of Tuesday’s incident at the Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj’s Gohardasht district from an informed source. HRANA, one of the few Iranian rights groups gathering reliable information from inside Iran, quoted the source as saying the prison raid targeted a ward housing Sunnis detained for their religious and political activities. (Voice of America)

08-11-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran announced it was taking back another portion of the 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile it handed over to Russia as part of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with world powers in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran on Saturday announced it was taking back another portion of the 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile it handed over to Russia as part of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with world powers in exchange for sanctions relief. Spokesman and vice-president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi said the re-imposition of US sanctions following President Donald Trump’s exit in May from the accord necessitated returning the uranium for domestic needs. “If the fuel is sold to us, we do not need to produce it by ourselves,” Kamalvandi said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. (Times of Israel)

08-09-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told North Korea's foreign minister that the United States cannot be trusted, Tehran's state media said, as the United States seeks a deal to rein in the North's nuclear and missile programs.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told North Korea's foreign minister that the United States cannot be trusted, Tehran's state media said, as the United States seeks a deal to rein in the North's nuclear and missile programs. Iran dismissed a last-minute offer from Washington for talks this week, saying it could not negotiate after the Trump administration reneged on a 2015 deal to lift sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's own nuclear program. North Korea's top diplomat, Ri Yong Ho, visited Iran as the United States reintroduced sanctions against the Islamic Republic. "The U.S. administration performance in these years has led the country to be considered untrustworthy and unreliable around the world which does not meet any of its obligations," Rouhani was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as telling Ri on Wednesday. (Reuters)

08-07-2018
Syria Conflict

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander admitted that the Houthi attack that targeted the two Saudi oil tankers in Bab al-Mandeb Strait was carried out as per a request from the Revolutionary Guards.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander admitted that the Houthi attack that targeted the two Saudi oil tankers in Bab al-Mandeb Strait was carried out as per a request from the Revolutionary Guards. According to the Iranian news agency Fars, the Revolutionary Guards Commander Nasser Shabani said: “We asked the Yemenis to attack the two Saudi oil tankers, so they did it.” The Fars News Agency deleted the article, which is considered a blatant admission by Iran of supporting the Houthi militias, minutes after publishing it. (Al-Arabiya)

08-07-2018
Terrorism

Iranian hackers are developing software attacks that render computer systems inoperable until a digital ransom is paid, a new report says, a threat that comes as the U.S. moves to reimpose tough economic sanctions on the country.

Iranian hackers are developing software attacks that render computer systems inoperable until a digital ransom is paid, a new report says, a threat that comes as the U.S. moves to reimpose tough economic sanctions on the country. Over the past two years, researchers at Accenture PLC’s iDefense cybersecurity-intelligence group have tracked five new types of so-called ransomware they say were built by hackers in Iran. The ransomware appears to be an attempt to secure payments in digital currencies such as bitcoin, Jim Guinn, head of Accenture’s industrial cybersecurity business, said in an interview. The software Accenture discovered contains a number of digital clues linking it to Iran. Some samples contain messages in the Farsi language and link to computers based in Iran, it said, while others are designed to avoid locking up Iranian computer systems with ransomware. (Wall Street Journal)

08-03-2018
Terrorism

A slate of investigations into alleged terror plots and killings sponsored by Iran has opened a new front in U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to cut ties with Tehran following President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May.

A slate of investigations into alleged terror plots and killings sponsored by Iran has opened a new front in U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to cut ties with Tehran following President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May. Washington, Israel and Iranian dissident groups say the alleged recent operations show that Iran has ended years of caution about hunting its enemies in Europe. They are urging European governments to withdraw support for Iran and ban Iranian officials from the region. But European officials, some skeptical that Iran’s government is behind the plots, are reluctant to adopt a harder line. (Wall Street Journal)

08-02-2018
Nuclear Program

A suspected attempt to fly missile warhead components to Iran via Heathrow has been thwarted by the UK Border Force.

A suspected attempt to fly missile warhead components to Iran via Heathrow has been thwarted by the UK Border Force. At least two “O rings” — which can be used to form seals in rockets — were detected during an inspection of freight being flown out from the airport. They were supposedly being sent for use in the Iranian oil industry. But Border Force staff halted the shipment after becoming suspicious that the real intention was to use them in missiles. An investigation is now under way which could lead to criminal action against those responsible for sending the parts. (Evening Standard)

08-02-2018
Military

Iran began a major naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz, in an apparent response to rhetoric from President Donald Trump in recent days that he would ratchet up pressure against Tehran, U.S. defense officials said.

Iran began a major naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz Thursday, in an apparent response to rhetoric from President Donald Trump in recent days that he would ratchet up pressure against Tehran, U.S. defense officials said. The U.S. believes the exercises “fully started” Thursday, one defense official said, and could continue until Aug. 6. A second official said there are more than 100 boats and ships participating in the exercise, but most are considered smaller craft. On Thursday, the U.S. saw boats going in and out of port, the first defense official said. An air component, consisting primarily of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are also are participating in the exercise, a military official said. (Wall Street Journal)

08-01-2018
Syria Conflict

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are still arming themselves with ballistic missiles and drones that “show characteristics similar” to Iranian-made weapons, a report by a UN panel of experts has found.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are still arming themselves with ballistic missiles and drones that “show characteristics similar” to Iranian-made weapons, a report by a UN panel of experts has found. In a confidential report to the UN Security Council, a copy of which was seen by AFP on Monday, the panel said it “continues to believe” that short-range ballistic missiles and other weaponry were transferred from Iran to Yemen after an arms embargo was imposed in 2015. Recent inspections of weaponry including missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by the Houthis “show characteristics similar to weapons systems known to be produced in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, said the 125-page report. (Agence France Presse)

07-31-2018
Anti-Americanism

The head of Iran's most powerful military body on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's offer of direct talks with Iranian leaders, saying Tehran never would allow talks with what he called the "Great Satan."

The head of Iran's most powerful military body on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's offer of direct talks with Iranian leaders, saying Tehran never would allow talks with what he called the "Great Satan." The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari, made the comment in an open letter published by Iran's state-controlled Fars News Agency. In the letter, Jafari said Iran never would allow talks with the Great Satan, his label for the U.S., because the nation's faith in Islam has made it "enormously different from submissive nations." Jafari also described Trump as an "amateurish president" whose wish for Iranian officials to request a meeting would go with him "to the grave." (Voice of America)

07-27-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps employed German companies to disguise illicit activities in its funding of the war against the pro-US government in Gulf country's capital of Sana'a.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps employed German companies to disguise illicit activities in its funding of the war against the pro-US government in Gulf country's capital of Sana'a. Time Magazine reported on Thursday: "For several years, Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been using German front companies to buy advanced printing machinery, watermarked paper and specialty inks in violation of European export controls. " According to interviews with US Treasury Department officials, Time added: "The IRGC had then printed counterfeit Yemeni bank notes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars and used them to help fund its proxy war against the beleaguered pro-US government in the capital of Sana’a. German companies were being used as a cover by the Iranians to finance the world’s worst humanitarian conflict." (Jerusalem Post)

07-26-2018
Anti-Americanism

Qassem Soleimani, a powerful commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, said that Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him, and mocked the U.S. president as using the language of “night clubs and gambling halls”.

A powerful commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him, and mocked the U.S. president as using the language of “night clubs and gambling halls”. The comments by Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who heads the Quds Force of the Guards, were the latest salvo in a war of words between the two countries. “As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to your threats ... If you wants to use the language of threat ... talk to me, not to the president (Hassan Rouhani). It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you,” Soleimani was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency. (Reuters)

07-26-2018
Terrorism

China, Russia and Iran are ramping up their theft of trade secrets and proprietary information from U.S. companies, government labs and universities to hurdle America’s competitive edge.

China, Russia and Iran are ramping up their theft of trade secrets and proprietary information from U.S. companies, government labs and universities to hurdle America’s competitive edge. A new government cyber report, released Thursday by the National Counterintelligence Security Center, offers these recent examples of the economic espionage it says poses a significant threat to U.S. prosperity and security:

—An Iranian hacker group called Rocket Kitten has been targeting U.S. defense companies seeking sensitive U.S. military technology to help Tehran improve its missile and space programs.

—The Iranian OilRig hacking group, which historically has targeted Saudi Arabia, has stepped up its attacks on U.S. financial institutions and information technology companies.

—The Iranian hacking outfit called APT33 has targeted energy companies to help improve Iran’s petrochemical production and technology. (Associated Press)

07-25-2018
Syria Conflict

Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments going through an important Red Sea waterway, accusing Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen of attacking two crude tankers.

Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments going through an important Red Sea waterway, accusing Iran-allied rebels of attacking two crude tankers on Wednesday. Stopping crude shipments through the Bab el-Mandeb strait—which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden—marks another escalation in the war between an Arab military coalition and Houthi rebels for control of Yemen. Saudi Arabia is attempting to ramp up oil exports amid an effort to keep the world well-supplied with oil as the U.S. squeezes Riyadh’s rival, Iran, with new sanctions that could reduce its oil exports. Saudi Arabia said the Houthis attacked two very large crude carriers operated by Saudi National Shipping Corp. in the Red Sea on Wednesday. One of the ships sustained minimal damage. No injuries nor oil spill have been reported, according to an emailed statement from the kingdom. (Wall Street Journal)

07-25-2018
Terrorism

A U.S.-based cybersecurity firm has uncovered a new “highly active” espionage group believed to be based in Iran that is breaking into networks of government organizations and other firms located in the Middle East.

A U.S.-based cybersecurity firm has uncovered a new “highly active” espionage group believed to be based in Iran that is breaking into networks of government organizations and other firms located in the Middle East. Symantec released information early Wednesday on the hacking collective, which researchers have dubbed “Leafminer.” The group is allegedly targeting organizations in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Eqypt, Israel and Afghanistan. Leafminer’s targets reportedly cut across several sectors, including energy, telecommunications, financial services, transportation and government. (The Hill)

07-24-2018
Politics

Several top managers at Iran's Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade have been put behind bars as the nation increasingly discovers that rampant corruption is a major cause behind the current economic turmoil.

Several top managers at Iran's Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade have been put behind bars as the nation increasingly discovers that rampant corruption is a major cause behind the current economic turmoil. Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei announced that at least five top managers at the ministry were arrested — four of whom are now in custody. The arrests were apparently made in connection to vehicle import fraud and the abuse of the official rate currency offered at the lower level of 42,000 rials per US dollar. Vehicle imports have long been seen as monopolized by well-connected, mafia-style corporations, which have benefited from the rial devaluation and enjoyed government privileges. Ejei went into further detail by publicly naming the director general of Iran's Trade Promotion Organization and one of his deputies as two of those arrested. "The prosecutors have been ordered to speed up the probe, show no leniency to the defendants and disregard their positions," he added. (Al-Monitor)

07-22-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cautioned U.S. President Donald Trump about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”, but did not rule out peace between the two countries.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday cautioned U.S. President Donald Trump about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”, but did not rule out peace between the two countries. Iran faces increased U.S. pressure and looming sanctions after Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program. Addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state new agency IRNA reported. “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. (Reuters)

07-21-2018
Nuclear Program

A German intelligence report from Hamburg said Iran’s regime is continuing to seek weapons of mass destruction, delivering another intelligence agency blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s belief that the 2015 atomic deal with Iran curbed Tehran.

A German intelligence report from the city-state of Hamburg said Iran’s regime is continuing to seek weapons of mass destruction, delivering another intelligence agency blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s belief that the 2015 atomic deal with the Islamic Republic curbed Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 211- page document that states “some of the crisis countries... are still making an effort to obtain products for the manufacture of atomic, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction (proliferation) and the corresponding missile carrier technology (rocket technology).” The Hamburg report on Thursday added that “the current main focus points of countries in the area of relevant proliferation activities are: Iran, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea.” (Jerusalem Post)

07-19-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran says it is continuing to acquire uranium and is close to finishing a plant where it can build more centrifuges to enrich uranium.

Iran says it is continuing to acquire uranium and is close to finishing a plant where it can build more centrifuges to enrich uranium. The announcement on July 18 comes a day after Iran filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States in response to President Donald Trump's decision in May to pull his country out of the 2015 nuclear accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other hard-liners in Iran have questioned whether Iran should continue honoring its obligations under the landmark deal with world powers after Trump's decision. (RFE/RL)

07-19-2018
Human Rights

Tehran’s prosecutor Jafari Dolatabad says verdicts have been issued against 258 Iranian dervishes of the Gonabadi order for participation in February protests, state-run news agency IRNA reported.

Tehran’s prosecutor Jafari Dolatabad says verdicts have been issued against 258 Iranian dervishes of the Gonabadi order, state-run news agency IRNA reported July 17. Ten dervishes of the same order had earlier been sentenced to “69 years in prison, 444 lashes, and fourteen years of exile,” according to a website close to the dervish religious order, Majzooban-i Noor (Enchanted by Light). Dolatabadi described the condemned dervishes, who are adherents to a minority Sufi Muslim faith, as the “elements of last February’s turmoil,” a reference to several days of protests by dervishes in February in Tehran that saw hundreds arrested and at least five dead. Enchanted By Light has also reported that 46 dervishes of the Gonabadi order had been sentenced to 171 years. (Radio Farda)

07-18-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, the head of its atomic agency said on Wednesday, upping the stakes in a confrontation with Washington over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work.

Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, the head of its atomic agency said on Wednesday, upping the stakes in a confrontation with Washington over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work. The announcement came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after Washington’s withdrawal from the pact. (Reuters)

07-16-2018
Human Rights

Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of people in fresh crackdowns on models and associated colleagues posting “immoral images” online.

Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of people in fresh crackdowns on models and associated colleagues posting “immoral images” online. The official IRNA news agency reported Monday that officials in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas, some 1250 kilometers, or 630 miles, south of the capital Tehran, arrested eight women and 36 other people in the photography, beauty salons and wedding businesses who used Instagram to share what they considered indecent images and clips. Police said they were “damaging public virtue through the organized spreading of anti-cultural” activities. (Associated Press)

07-13-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran has no intention of leaving Syria regardless of U.S. and Israeli pressure, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior envoy to Iran's leader said.

Iran has no intention of leaving Syria regardless of U.S. and Israeli pressure, a senior envoy to Iran's leader said Friday, reaffirming a tough stance on the issue expected to top the agenda of the upcoming U.S.-Russian summit. The statement from Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came in the wake of his meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A day earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Putin that Israel wants Iran to leave Syria. (Associated Press)

07-12-2018
Human Rights

Amnesty International is denouncing Iran for the public flogging of a young man whose alleged crime was having consumed alcohol at a wedding ten years ago, when he was 14 or 15 years old.

Amnesty International is denouncing Iran for the public flogging of a young man whose alleged crime was having consumed alcohol at a wedding when he was 14 or 15 years old. Amnesty in a statement issued late on July 11 called the flogging "horrific" and "absolutely shocking," and said it violated international law as well as international conventions on civil and children's rights. The public flogging took place on July 10 in Niazmand Square in Kashmar in Iran's Razavi Khorasan Province, where the man, who was identified only as M. R., was flogged 80 times on his back for having consumed alcohol at a wedding 10 years ago when he was a teenager. (RFE/RL)

07-11-2018
Terrorism

An Iranian diplomat is suspected of involvement in a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France.

An Iranian diplomat is suspected of involvement in a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France. Assadollah Assadi was charged in Germany on Wednesday with activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder. Assadi, a Vienna-based diplomat, is suspected of contracting a couple in Belgium to attack an annual meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in Villepinte, near Paris, German federal prosecutors said. He allegedly gave the Antwerp-based couple a device containing 500 grams of the explosive TATP during a meeting in Luxembourg in late June, prosecutors said in a written statement. Assadi was detained earlier this month near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after the couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car. (Associated Press)

07-10-2018
Human Rights

An Iranian woman who peacefully protested the obligatory hijab rule by removing her head scarf in public in Tehran in December says she has been sentenced to two years in prison in addition to an 18-year suspended prison term.

An Iranian woman who peacefully protested the obligatory hijab rule by removing her head scarf in public in Tehran in December says she has been sentenced to two years in prison in addition to an 18-year suspended prison term. Shaparak Shajarizadeh also says she has left Iran to escape "injustices." In a live broadcast shared widely on social media this week, Shajarizadeh said that she was sentenced to prison for opposing the compulsory hijab. "This means that I will have to be silent for 20 years and not get involved in any activities," Shajarizadeh said on Instagram. (RFE/RL)

07-10-2018
Terrorism

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using its embassies to plot terrorist attacks in Europe and warned Tehran that its actions have "a real high cost" after it threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of using its embassies to plot terrorist attacks in Europe and warned Tehran that its actions have "a real high cost" after it threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies. Pompeo's comments came during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates, a staunch U.S. ally, and as senior U.S. officials were wrapping up three days of talks in neighboring Saudi Arabia on countering threats from Iran and starving it of oil revenue. "Just this past week there were Iranians arrested in Europe who were preparing to conduct a terror plot in Paris, France. We have seen this malign behavior in Europe," Pompeo said in an interview with Sky News Arabia. (Associated Press)

07-09-2018
Human Rights

Iran has arrested a number of people over videos that were posted on Instagram, including a young woman who filmed herself dancing to music.

Iran has arrested a number of people over videos that were posted on Instagram, including a young woman who filmed herself dancing to music. According to activists, Maedeh Hojabri was one of a number of users behind popular Instagram accounts who have been arrested. The identities of the other detainees have not been confirmed. Her account, which has been suspended, was reported to have had more than 600,000 followers. Hojabri has since appeared on a state television programme with other detainees, in which she and others made what activists say were forced confessions, a tactic often used by Iranian authorities. (The Guardian)

07-09-2018
Human Rights

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, more than fifty Iranian dissidents have urged him to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) for its role in violation of human rights in the country.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, more than fifty Iranian dissidents have urged him to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) for its role in violation of human rights in the country. Referring to IRIB’s newscast style, systematic abuse of human rights, propagating the Islamic Republic’s destabilizing policies in the region and disrupting free flow of information by jamming independent TV and radio shows, the dissidents have insisted that it is time to end Washington’s waiver of sanctions against the state-run organization. The role of IRIB in paving the way for the Iranian establishment to abuse human rights still needs a thorough review, the signatories have affirmed in their July 7 letter, adding, “IRIB has continued human rights violations through airing forced confession of people suspected for being opponents of the regime.” (Radio Farda)

07-08-2018
Human Rights

Up to fifty persons have been arrested in northwestern Iran, days ahead of the annual gathering at a historic fortress in Eastern Azarbaijan province, human rights activists report.

Up to fifty persons have been arrested in northwestern Iran, days ahead of the annual gathering at a historic fortress in Eastern Azarbaijan province, human rights activists report. In recent years, thousands of Iranians, mostly Azeri speaking activists, gather at Babak Fortress usually during the first weekend in July for the annual commemoration of Babak Khorramdin, celebrating his birthday. The Islamic Republic authorities every year try to prevent the gathering, which takes the overtones of both Azeri and Iranian patriotism. (Radio Farda)

07-05-2018
Syria Conflict

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said their forces were ready to implement Iran's threat to block the Strait of Hormuz and that if Iran cannot sell its oil under the U.S. pressure, no other regional country will be allowed to.

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday their forces were ready to implement Iran's threat to block the Strait of Hormuz and that if Iran cannot sell its oil under the U.S. pressure, no other regional country will be allowed to. "We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed ... We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one," Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. On Wednesday, a Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz was U.S. President Donald Trump to stop Iranian oil sales. (Reuters)

07-04-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, President Hassan Rouhani told the body’s head, after he warned U.S. President Donald Trump of “consequences” of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales.

Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, President Hassan Rouhani told the body’s head on Wednesday, after he warned U.S. President Donald Trump of “consequences” of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales. In May, Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures. “Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA,” Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying after meeting IAEA head Yukiya Amano in Vienna. (Reuters)

07-02-2018
Extremism

An Iranian general has accused Israel of causing climate change in the revolutionary Shiite Muslim republic by stealing the water out of clouds passing over the Mediterranean.

An Iranian general has accused Israel of causing climate change in the revolutionary Shiite Muslim republic by stealing the water out of clouds passing over the Mediterranean. Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization, revealed the charges during an agricultural conference in the capital city of Tehran. He claimed Iranian scientific centers have proven that Israel and an unnamed neighboring country were secretly cooperating to extract the moisture out of clouds bound to pass over Iran, thus robbing the country of rain and snow. "Joint teams from Israel and one of the neighboring countries make the clouds entering into Iran barren. Moreover, we are faced with the cases of cloud theft and snow theft," Jalali said, according to a translation reported by Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency of comments featured by the Iranian Students' News Agency. (Newsweek)

06-29-2018
Nuclear Program

The Islamic Republic of Iran sought to obtain illicit goods for its missile program from Germany, the intelligence agency for Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, announced.

The Islamic Republic of Iran sought to obtain illicit goods for its missile program from Germany, the intelligence agency for Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, announced on Friday. In the report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the intelligence agency wrote: “Because of the demand for relevant goods for its rocket program, Iran continues to represent proliferation defense in our work.” The report cited Iran’s activities in its section titled “Education and Defense from Proliferation.” The report, which covers 2017, stated that in connection with illegal Iranian and Pakistani efforts to obtain missile technology “in the overwhelming majority of the number of cases, however, there occurred no delivery of the particular goods.” (Jerusalem Post)

06-29-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran say it will stop implementing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) if all member states, international organizations, and the remaining parties to the agreement cannot guarantee its benefits for Iran.

Iran say it will stop implementing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) if all member states, international organizations, and the remaining parties to the agreement cannot guarantee its benefits for Iran. “There shall be no doubt that if, after the exhaustion of available remedies, rights and benefits of the Iranian people are not fully guaranteed, it is Iran’s unquestionable right — recognized also under the JCPOA and Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) — to take appropriate actions and to treat the re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions by the United States ‘as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA in whole or in part',” a statement released by the Iran’s mission to the UN in New York said on Thursday, June 28. (Radio Farda)

06-27-2018
Human Rights

Iran’s supreme leader demanded punishment for those who disrupt business, signaling a tougher line after two days of strikes by market traders, the biggest unrest since the start of the year.

Iran’s supreme leader demanded punishment for those who disrupt business, signaling a tougher line after two days of strikes by market traders, the biggest unrest since the start of the year. With the economy facing the prospect of new U.S. sanctions, the country’s leadership signaled it was taking a united front toward the unrest. In a speech, President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who has long sought more open economic relations with the outside world, blamed Washington for Iran’s hardship, calling on Iranians to “bring America to its knees”. At Tehran’s Grand Bazaar on Wednesday, business was back to normal after the two-day strike had closed most shops. (Reuters)

06-27-2018
Human Rights

An international rights group said it had learned that Iran quietly executed a teenager for a crime he committed when he was 14 years old.

An international rights group said it had learned that Iran quietly executed a teenager for a crime he committed when he was 14 years old. Amnesty International's London-based Iran researcher Raha Bahreini told VOA Persian her group heard from local sources that Abolfazl Chezani Sharahi was executed Wednesday at dawn in Qom prison, south of Tehran. Sharahi had been sentenced to death in September 2014 for fatally stabbing a young man during a fight in December 2013, when Sharahi was 14. Bahreini said Iranian authorities transferred him to solitary confinement on Tuesday in preparation for his execution — the fifth such transfer since 2014. (Voice of America)

06-27-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran says it has restarted production at a “major” uranium facility involved in its nuclear program, though it still pledges to follow the terms of the country’s landmark atomic deal.

Iran says it has restarted production at a “major” uranium facility involved in its nuclear program, though it still pledges to follow the terms of the country’s landmark atomic deal now under threat after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled America out of the accord. Iranian comments about the Isfahan plant, which produces material needed to enrich uranium, appear aimed at pressuring Europeans and others to come up with a way to circumvent new U.S. sanctions. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said in a statement late Wednesday it reopened a plant that converts yellowcake, a uranium powder, into uranium hexafluoride gas. That gas is what scientists put inside of centrifuges to make enriched uranium that can be used in nuclear power plants or in atomic bombs. (Associated Press)

06-25-2018
Syria Conflict

The Iranian supreme leader’s top military adviser, Yahya Rahim Safavi, has threatened Saudi Arabia with “a barrage of missiles.”

The Iranian supreme leader’s top military adviser, Yahya Rahim Safavi, has threatened Saudi Arabia with “a barrage of missiles.” “If Saudis dare to attack Iran, the royal palaces in Riyadh will be immediately showered with 1,000 missiles,” said Safavi, former chief-commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in response to a question concerning a possible Saudi attack against Iran. Speaking to a military audience in the city of Shiraz, Safavi said on June 24 that Iran is the number one power in the whole region and none of the regional problems could be tackled without Iran’s involvement. (Radio Farda)

06-23-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps announced Saturday that one of its senior commanders was killed on Friday while fighting Islamic State fighters in northeastern Syria.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps announced Saturday that one of its senior commanders was killed on Friday while fighting Islamic State fighters in northeastern Syria. The exact circumstances of Shahrokh Daiepour’s death were not disclosed, but the state-run Fars news agency said he had been involved in training fighters from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy which has been fighting in Syria alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Daiepour had served as a commander in the Islamic Republic’s Navy during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. (Times of Israel)

06-21-2018
Anti-Americanism

A senior aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed that the U.S. was behind the creation of ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria.

A senior aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed that the U.S. was behind the creation of ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria. Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Ali Akbar Velayati also warned that America’s involvement in the country could prove bloody, the official state Fars news agency said. “The Americans themselves have created the ISIL [ISIS] and the al-Nusra in Syria and now they have come onto the scene and occupied Eastern Euphrates,” Velayati said. (Newsweek)

06-21-2018
Nuclear Program

The director of the AEOI has voiced doubts about the future of the 2015 nuclear agreement after the U.S. pullout from the deal, saying proposals put forward by the European countries to safeguard the nuclear pact are not satisfying for Iran.

The director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has voiced doubts about the future of the 2015 nuclear agreement after the U.S. pullout from the deal, saying proposals put forward by the European countries to safeguard the nuclear pact are not satisfying for the Islamic Republic. Ali Akbar Salehi made the comments in a Wednesday meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Oslo, Tasnim reported. “If it continues like this, all sides will lose,” Salehi warned. Salehi denounced as “destructive” Washington’s policies toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name for the nuclear pact, saying such policies are “doomed to failure”. (Tehran Times)

06-21-2018
Human Rights

Iranian authorities have arrested a lawyer for spreading "lies" after claiming that a Sufi man executed this week was wrongfully convicted of killing three police officers, local media report.

Iranian authorities have arrested a lawyer for spreading "lies" after claiming that a Sufi man executed this week was wrongfully convicted of killing three police officers, local media report. The semiofficial Fars news agency said on June 20 that an arrest warrant was issued against Zeinab Taheri for making "false statements" and because of "her lies propagated online claiming [Mohammad Salas] was not guilty." The judiciary chief for Tehran Province, Gholamhossein Esmaili, was quoted as saying that Taheri was never a lawyer for Salas and did not have reliable information on the case. (RFE/RL)

06-20-2018
Terrorism

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly opposed joining a global anti-money laundering convention.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly opposed joining a global anti-money laundering convention. Referring to recent debates in country's parliament on joining the Financial Action Task Force, Khamenei told lawmakers Wednesday: "It is not necessary to join conventions whose depths we are unaware of." Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said the parliament should instead prepare its own bills against money laundering and terrorism, accusing the convention of merely "securing the interests" of big powers. (Associated Press)

06-18-2018
Human Rights

Iranian authorities executed a member of a Sufi order who was accused of ramming a bus into three policemen and killing them during a protest in February in Tehran, drawing criticism from observers who said he received unfair treatment.

Iranian authorities executed a member of a Sufi order Monday who was accused of ramming a bus into three policemen and killing them during a protest in February in Tehran, drawing criticism from observers who said he received unfair treatment. Mohammad Salas, 51, was hanged Monday morning in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, according the official website of Iran’s judiciary. He was later buried in his hometown of Borujerd, Lorestan province, according to a Tweet by his lawyer, Zeynab Taheri. The State Department called for Iran to release about 300 Sufis who were detained during February’s clashes and said Salas’ execution was “brutal and unjust.” (Los Angeles Times)

06-15-2018
Syria Conflict

The United Nations has determined that debris from five ballistic missiles launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia since July contained components manufactured in Iran and shared key design features with an Iranian missile, a new report says.

The United Nations has determined that debris from five ballistic missiles launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia since July contained components manufactured in Iran and shared key design features with an Iranian missile, a new report says. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report to the UN Security Council, which was seen by media on June 14, that -- while the missile parts are Iranian -- the United Nations has been unable to determine whether they were transferred from Iran after UN restrictions went into force in January 2016. Guterres said the UN was also "confident" that some arms seized by Bahrain and recovered by the United Arab Emirates from an unmanned vessel laden with explosives were manufactured in Iran. (RFE/RL)

06-15-2018
Human Rights

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has blamed foreign media for the recent economic turbulence in his country and lamented the fact that Iranians trust foreign outlets more than domestic ones.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has blamed foreign media for the recent economic turbulence in his country and lamented the fact that Iranians trust foreign outlets more than domestic ones. “Today, our main problem is not the economy, culture, or security, but a psychological war,” Rouhani said June 13 while addressing a group of Iranian journalists and media officials, adding, “the biggest grief of a nation is when foreign media are their [main] source of information.” Iranians are avid consumers of radio and TV news, as well as on-line content offered by international Persian language broadcasters such as RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, Voice of America, and the BBC. Iran’s constitution does not allow private individuals to launch radio and TV programs, and all existing channels are under the umbrella of a state-run organization controlled by conservatives and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Radio Farda)

06-14-2018
Syria Conflict

Iranian President Hassan defended Iran’s growing military presence in Syria, claiming that the Islamic Republic was engaged in “fighting terrorism.”

Iranian President Hassan defended Iran’s growing military presence in Syria, claiming that the Islamic Republic was engaged in “fighting terrorism.” During a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, both parties discussed bilateral relations, regional affairs and issues related to the nuclear deal. On the Syrian issue, Rouhani told Macron that “unlike the illegitimate presence of certain states in that country, the presence of Iranian advisers in Syrian is quite legal and based on the official request of the Syrian government with an aim of fighting terrorism.” (Asharq Al-awsat)

06-13-2018
Human Rights

Iranian authorities jailed a prominent human rights lawyer who has defended women who removed their mandatory Islamic head scarves in public.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested at her home by unidentified agents and taken to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, an advocacy group. Her husband, Reza Khandan, said the agents told him she must serve a five-year sentence but did not say on what charges she was being detained, the group said. Khandan confirmed her arrest to The Times. Separately, state media reported that Farhad Jafari, a well known writer in the city of Mashhad, was arrested 12 days ago for supporting “the girls of Enghelab Avenue,” near the Tehran square where, in December, a woman removed her headscarf in protest of modesty laws that require Iranian women to cover their hair. (Los Angeles Times)

06-10-2018
Terrorism

Israel has complained to the UN Security Council, saying that Hamas is working with Hezbollah to establish missile factories and training camps in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria reported.

Israel has complained to the UN Security Council, saying that Hamas is working with Hezbollah to establish missile factories and training camps in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria reported Saturday. According to the report, Israel sent a letter to the UN Security Council and General Assembly that included intelligence showing the effort of the two terrorist groups to set up missile factories and training facilities for thousands of Palestinian fighters. Israel requested that the UN intervene to stop cooperation between the two groups, charging it was a “blatant violation” of UN Security Resolution 1701, which set the terms to end the 34-day Second Lebanon War fought between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. (Jerusalem Post)

06-08-2018
Extremism

Iran held its annual day of protest against Israel on Friday, determined to show defiance at a time of mounting pressure from the United States and its regional allies.

Iran held its annual day of protest against Israel on Friday, determined to show defiance at a time of mounting pressure from the United States and its regional allies. "The US, Saudi Arabia and Israel want to put Iran in a corner, but they don't know that with this action they are threatening their own security," said parliament speaker Ali Larijani, addressing a crowd in Tehran. Thousands took to the streets in the capital and other cities for Qods (Jerusalem) Day, held every year since the early days of Iran's Islamic revolution to show support for the Palestinians. This year's event saw the usual burning of flags and chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", as well as a huge Donald Trump figure being hanged from a crane. (AFP)

06-08-2018
Nuclear Program

Three centrifuges labeled in English in the background of a live television interview showed advanced devices Tehran is prohibited from using by the nuclear deal with world powers.

The star of a live television interview in Iran’s new nuclear workshop wasn’t the head of the country’s atomic agency, but three centrifuges labeled in English in the background, advanced devices Tehran is prohibited from using by the nuclear deal with world powers. The placement of the centrifuges, identified as IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6, may have served as a subtle warning to Europe as it tries to salvage the atomic accord after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it and restore U.S. sanctions. In recent days Iranian officials from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on down have vowed to boost the country’s uranium enrichment capacity. The moves they have outlined would not violate the 2015 nuclear accord, but would allow Iran to quickly ramp up enrichment if the agreement unravels. (The Associated Press)

06-08-2018
Nuclear Program

Mohammad Javad Zarif, is asking world powers that remain committed to its 2015 nuclear deal to resist what he called U.S. "bullying tactics" and ensure that Iran is compensated for economic losses that result from U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.

Iran's top diplomat is asking world powers that remain committed to its 2015 nuclear deal to resist what he called U.S. "bullying tactics" and ensure that Iran is compensated for economic losses that result from U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. In a letter made public on Twitter by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on June 7, Zarif said that for the deal to "survive," the "remaining signatories and other economic partners" need to "make up for Iran's losses" caused by the U.S. exit and planned reimposition of U.S. sanctions previously lifted under the deal. Zarif said that "some of the most significant economic benefits to Iran from the [nuclear deal] derive from the sanctions-lifting obligation of the United States" and Iran is now seeking to determine "whether and how the remaining participants and economic partners can ensure the full benefits that the Iranian people are entitled to derive." (RFE/RL)

06-08-2018
Syria Conflict

The Syrian regime is disguising Iran-allied militias as its own fighters, according to rebels, a battlefield feint that appears calculated to try to avoid further Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

The Syrian regime is disguising Iran-allied militias as its own fighters, according to rebels, a battlefield feint that appears calculated to try to avoid further Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. Israel, which has said it won’t allow forces loyal to Iran to entrench near its border, has watched closely as the regime and its allies appear to be preparing a military assault on rebels in southwestern Syria. After initially appearing to withdraw, military convoys of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and other Iran-backed militias have returned to both Daraa and Quneitra provinces in Syria’s southwest near Israel, dressed in Syrian military uniforms and under Syrian flags, according to multiple rebel commanders. The convoys that returned were equipped with rockets and missiles, one of the rebel commanders said. (Wall Street Journal)

06-07-2018
Syria Conflict

A Saudi court has sentenced four people to death for links to regional rival Iran, alleging that they were plotting the assassination of "prominent figures", state media said.

A Saudi court has sentenced four people to death for links to regional rival Iran, alleging that they were plotting the assassination of "prominent figures", state media said Thursday. "The criminal court has sentenced four terrorists to death for forming a cell for Iran," the state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV reported. "The terrorists were trained in camps in Iran" and "planned to assassinate prominent figures," Al-Ekhbariya said, without giving any more details on those convicted. (Radio Farda)

06-06-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran will not heed a call to cooperate more fully with U.N. nuclear inspectors until a standoff over the future of its agreement with major powers is resolved, its envoy to the agency said.

Iran will not heed a call to cooperate more fully with U.N. nuclear inspectors until a standoff over the future of its agreement with major powers is resolved, its envoy to the agency said on Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing the restrictions placed on Iran’s activities under the deal, has said Tehran is implementing its commitments, but also called for “timely and proactive cooperation” on providing access for snap inspections. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has said the comment is “not an expression of concern or complaints but rather an encouragement to Iran”. Diplomats who deal with the agency, however, say it follows an inspection in late April that went down to the wire in terms of how quickly the IAEA team gained access to one site. (Reuters)

06-05-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers.

Iran has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers. The modest steps announced Tuesday appeared to be mainly aimed at signaling that Iran could resume its drive toward industrial-scale enrichment if the nuclear accord comes unraveled. Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, was quoted by state TV as saying a letter was submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency detailing the move. Kamalvandi said Iran is “providing infrastructure and arrangements for high-speed and capacity in production of UF4 and UF6 gases as well as rotor of centrifuges.” (The Associated Press)

06-04-2018
Extremism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at Israel, calling the Jewish state the “cancerous tumor” of the region that must be “removed and eradicated.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday lashed out at Israel, calling the Jewish state the “cancerous tumor” of the region that must be “removed and eradicated.” In a series of tweets Sunday, Khamenei leveled harsh criticism at Israel for its handling of the violent Hamas-orchestrated “March of Return” protests along the Gaza border. “Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken,” he said. “#Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.” (Times of Israel)

06-02-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran’s regime has not stopped its drive to secure technology and scientific knowledge to produce weapon of mass destruction, the intelligence agency of the German state of Baden-Württemberg disclosed in a report last week.

Iran’s regime has not stopped its drive to secure technology and scientific knowledge to produce weapon of mass destruction, the intelligence agency of the German state of Baden-Württemberg disclosed in a report last week. “Iran continued to undertake, as did Pakistan and Syria, efforts to obtain goods and know-how to be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction and to optimize corresponding missile delivery systems,” said the intelligence document, reviewed by FoxNews.com. (Fox News)

06-01-2018
Human Rights

Iran's judicial and security authorities have stepped up crackdown on the very experts and activists who are leading efforts to address the country’s growing water scarcity and environmental problems.

While Iran’s environmental challenges have reached crisis level, the country’s judicial and security authorities have stepped up crackdown on the very experts and activists who are leading efforts to address the country’s growing water scarcity and environmental problems, adversely affecting tens of millions of Iranians on a daily basis. In recent months, intelligence operatives of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have arrested scores of water management and environmental experts and activists on spurious charges. The IRGC, in collusion with the country’s repressive Judiciary, accuses those arrested of working for foreign intelligence agencies; but in reality, the IRGC targets these individuals because it considers them a threat to its environmentally-destructive construction projects. (Middle East Institute)

05-29-2018
Terrorism

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has amassed a net personal worth of around $250 million due to his organization's illegal drug smuggling operations, Al-Ittihad, an Arabic language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates, reported.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has amassed a net personal worth of around $250 million due to his organization's illegal drug smuggling operations, Al-Ittihad, an Arabic language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates, reported on Monday. According to the report, which relies on senior Lebanese government sources, the scope of Nasrallah's fortune was discovered within the framework of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation against Hezbollah – which aside from its designation as a terrorist organization also operates as one of the largest drug cartels in the world. Due to economic sanctions the U.S. has reimposed on Iran and the massive reduction of Tehran's budget to Hezbollah, Al-Ittihad reported, compounded by the heavy financial toll exacted by involvement in the Syrian civil war, Nasrallah ordered an expansion of the organization's drug-related activities – which resulted in extensive financial gains for Hezbollah and a personal windfall for Nasrallah himself. (Israel Hayom)

05-29-2018
Terrorism

Some of the dozens of mortars and rockets fired into Israel by Gaza-based terrorists on Tuesday, May 29 were made in Iran and smuggled into the Strip, the Israeli army said.

Some of the dozens of mortars and rockets fired into Israel by Gaza-based terrorists on Tuesday were made in Iran and smuggled into the Strip, the army said. In a statement, the army said that during the day more than 70 mortars and rockets were fired, with many intercepted. “Among the munitions fired at Israel were also rockets manufactured in Iran,” it said. It gave no details on the types of rockets. IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said in separate comments that some of the mortar shells appeared to be an Iranian-made variety that had been smuggled into the coastal enclave. (Times of Israel)

05-27-2018
Human Rights

Iranian security forces will "resolutely confront" unrest that could be exploited by the United States and other enemies, a judiciary spokesman said, after a wave of protests across the country mainly about economic issues.

Iranian security forces will "resolutely confront" unrest that could be exploited by the United States and other enemies, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday, after a wave of protests across the country mainly about economic issues. The likely return of U.S. economic sanctions after Washington withdrew from an Iranian nuclear deal with world powers has triggered labour unrest and protests in Iran in the past few weeks by various groups, including teachers and truckers. (Reuters)

05-27-2018
Syria Conflict

The secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Security Council has reiterated that Iran’s military presence in Syria, its regional policies and missile program will continue and are non-negotiable.

The secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Security Council has reiterated that Iran’s military presence in Syria, its regional policies and missile program will continue and are non-negotiable. On May 17, Russian president Vladimir Putin had said that after the stabilization of the situation in Syria he hopes all foreign troops will be withdrawn from Syria. Speaking to Al Jezeera TV network, Ali Shamkhani, an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Rear Admiral, without mentioning the Putin's statement, insisted, “The Islamic Republic will never leave Syria because its presence is at the request of the Syrian government.” (Radio Farda)

05-25-2018
Syria Conflict

Yemeni Houthi rebels have fired several missiles into Saudi Arabia over the past two days, Iranian and Arab media reported.

Yemeni Houthi rebels have fired several missiles into Saudi Arabia over the past two days, Iranian and Arab media reported. According to Tasnim News Agency, an outlet affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Houthis fired a missile dubbed “Badr-1” at the Saudi border city of Najran on Friday. Quoting Houthi rebel sources, Tasnim said the target was a gathering of Saudi military forces in the border region. The Saudi Royal Air Defense Force said it successfully intercepted the missiles coming from Houthi-held region in Yemen toward Najran. The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen criticized Houthis for deliberately targeting civilian and populated areas, but said there were no casualties. (Middle East Institute)

05-24-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran’s supreme leader has threatened to pull his country out of the nuclear deal and resume enriching uranium if European countries do not promise to buy Iranian oil and to oppose all new US sanctions against Tehran.

Iran’s supreme leader has threatened to pull his country out of the nuclear deal and resume enriching uranium if European countries do not promise to buy Iranian oil and to oppose all new US sanctions against Tehran. Three days after US secretary of state Mike Pompeo delivered America’s extensive list of demands of Iran for a new nuclear agreement, Ayatollah Khamenei laid out his own demands of European countries for Iran to stay in the 2015 deal. “If the Europeans hesitate in responding to our demands, Iran is entitled to resuming its nuclear activities,” he said in a statement. (Telegraph)

05-23-2018
Military

Weapons researchers have identified activity at a remote secret facility in the Iranian desert that points to the covert development of long-range missiles that could potentially be used to attack the United States, The New York Times reported.

Weapons researchers have identified activity at a remote secret facility in the Iranian desert that points to the covert development of long-range missiles that could potentially be used to attack the United States, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Satellite images appear to show, among other things, activity around a tunnel leading underground and evidence of powerful rocket engine tests that scorched telltale marks in the desert sand near the city of Shahrud, the report said. (Times of Israel)

05-22-2018
Anti-Americanism

A senior Iranian military commander poured scorn on U.S. threats to tighten sanctions, saying the Islamic Republic’s people would respond by punching U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the mouth.

A senior Iranian military commander poured scorn on U.S. threats to tighten sanctions on Tuesday, saying the Islamic Republic’s people would respond by punching U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the mouth. Pompeo said on Monday Washington would impose new penalties if Tehran did not make sweeping changes, including dropping its nuclear program and pulling out of the Syrian civil war. “The people of Iran should stand united in the face of this and they will deliver a strong punch to the mouth of the American Secretary of State and anyone who backs them,” Ismail Kowsari, the deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Tehran said, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency. (Reuters)

05-17-2018
Extremism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that "Palestine will be liberated from the enemies and Jerusalem will be its capital."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday that "Palestine will be liberated from the enemies and Jerusalem will be its capital." Speaking ahead of the Islamic summit in Istanbul and in honor of the start of Ramadan, he added that "The Palestinians are suffering under [the rule of] a fake entity, and Muslims are content to stand by and watch.  "The United States is a partner to the Israeli entity in its crimes against the Palestinians." (Jerusalem Post)

05-17-2018
Politics

A violent protest in the city of Kazeroon in southwestern Iran has left at least one person dead and six others injured, Iranian media report.

A violent protest in the city of Kazeroon in southwestern Iran has left at least one person dead and six others injured, Iranian media report. Esmail Tabadar, the governor of the province of Fars, where Kazeroon is located, confirmed the death of one protester in a May 17 interview with the semiofficial ISNA news agency. In a statement published by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency on May 17, the Interior Ministry urged “the wise people of Kazeroon to be alert against plots of the opposition groups and enemies of Iran." (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

05-14-2018
Extremism

A hardline Iranian organization is reportedly offering a $100,000 reward to any person who bombs the newly opened U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to a translation of Farsi language reports.

A hardline Iranian organization is reportedly offering a $100,000 reward to any person who bombs the newly opened U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to a translation of Farsi language reports. A group known as the Iranian Justice Seeker Student Movement is reported to have disseminated posters calling for an attack on the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which has been opposed by Palestinian and Iranian officials as an affront to the holy city.

"The Student Justice Movement will support anybody who destroy the illegal American embassy in Jerusalem," the poster states in Farsi, Arabic, and English, according to an independent translation of the propaganda poster provided to the Free Beacon. There will be a "$100,000 dollar prize for the person who destroys the illegal American embassy in Jerusalem," the poster states. (Washington Free Beacon)

05-13-2018
Politics

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must apologize to the people of Iran for signing the Iran nuclear deal, the country's conservative Assembly of Experts said in a statement.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must apologize to the people of Iran for signing the Iran nuclear deal, the country's conservative Assembly of Experts said in a statement released Sunday. In light of the "damage" caused by President Donald Trump's decision that the United States would withdraw from the agreement, the statement "honestly and frankly" called on Rouhani to apologize for "not adhering to the red lines" set by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Assembly of Experts is an elected body of theologians charged by Iran's constitution with selecting and overseeing the Supreme Leader, the religious scholar who wields ultimate power in the Islamic Republic. In practice, however, the body has become a rubber stamp for arch-conservative Khamenei. (Jerusalem Post)

05-11-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran says it is ready to restart nuclear enrichment on an "industrial scale" in the wake of the US decision to abandon the deal that curbs the country's nuclear ambitions.

Iran says it is ready to restart nuclear enrichment on an "industrial scale" in the wake of the US decision to abandon the deal that curbs the country's nuclear ambitions. In a statement published Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said he would embark on a round of international diplomacy to try and save the deal. At the same time, the country would make preparations to restart its nuclear program, he said. (CNN)

05-10-2018
Human Rights

Organizers of a teachers' protest in the Iranian capital, Tehran, say security forces have violently broken up their rally, beating up some of the demonstrators and arresting at least six of them.

Organizers of a teachers' protest in the Iranian capital, Tehran, say security forces have violently broken up their rally, beating up some of the demonstrators and arresting at least six of them. Dozens of retired and practicing teachers attended Thursday's protest outside the Iranian government's planning and budget organization building in Tehran. It was one of several rallies around the country organized by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations to protest what it says are poor salaries for teachers and insufficient funding of the public education system as a whole. The teachers association of Tehran reported that Iranian security forces used force to break up the rally, beating several protesters including women. A member of the association, Sedighe Pakzamir, tweeted the names of six education activists who she said were arrested. Iran's Human Rights Activist News Agency quoted the Tehran association as saying the number of those detained was at least 15. (Voice of America)

05-09-2018
Syria Conflict

Yemen’s Iran-allied Shiite rebels fired ballistic missiles at the Saudi capital, according to the rebels and the Saudi military, which said its air defense forces intercepted missiles in the skies over Riyadh and the southern city of Jizan.

Yemen’s Shiite rebels fired ballistic missiles at the Saudi capital on Wednesday, according to the rebels and the Saudi military, which said its air defense forces intercepted missiles in the skies over Riyadh and the southern city of Jizan. The cross-border attack by the Iran-allied rebels, known as Houthis, came amid mounting regional tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Saudi coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said a ballistic missile was shot down by the Kingdom’s air defense forces in the skies over the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Earlier, the military said it had intercepted two missiles fired across the border at southern Jizan province, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from Riyadh. (Associated Press)

05-09-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s supreme leader chastised President Donald Trump over his decision to pull America out of the 2015 nuclear deal, while lawmakers lit a paper U.S. flag on fire inside parliament, shouting, “Death to America!”

Iran’s supreme leader chastised President Donald Trump on Wednesday over his decision to pull America out of the 2015 nuclear deal, while lawmakers lit a paper U.S. flag on fire inside parliament, shouting, “Death to America!” The government backlash reflected broad public anger in Iran over Trump’s decision, which threatens to destroy the landmark agreement. While Iranian officials, including the parliament speaker, say they hope Europe will work with them to preserve the deal, many are pessimistic. In comments before school teachers, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Trump: “You cannot do a damn thing!” The exhortation from Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, follows a pattern of Iranian leaders declaring their nation’s ability to resist foreign pressure or interference. (Associated Press)

05-09-2018
Syria Conflict

Confrontation between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria sharply escalated as Israel said Iran launched a barrage of 20 missiles toward its positions in the Golan Heights.

Confrontation between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria sharply escalated early Thursday morning as Israel said Iran launched a barrage of 20 missiles toward its positions in the Golan Heights. Heavy military jet activity, explosions and air-defense fire could be heard throughout the night in the area. An Israeli military spokesman said the rockets were fired by Iran’s Quds Force, a special forces unit affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, marking the first time Iranian forces have ever fired directly on Israeli troops. The Israeli military said several of the rockets had been intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, and sparks could be seen as they broke up in the sky. (Washington Post)

05-09-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran’s supreme leader hinted that his country might step up its nuclear program, signaling a possible escalation in an already volatile relationship with Washington.

Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday hinted that his country might step up its nuclear program, signaling a possible escalation in an already volatile relationship with Washington after President Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal. “Last night, you heard the president of America making petty and mindless statements,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told a group of teachers in his Tehran office, according to the semiofficial news agency Fars. “There were perhaps more than 10 lies in his statements.” “He threatened both the system and the nation that ‘I will do this and that,’” the ayatollah said. “I say on behalf of the nation of Iran: ‘Mr. Trump, you won’t do a damn thing!’” (New York Times)

05-03-2018
Nuclear Program

An Israeli satellite imaging company released images showing what it described as “unusual” movement around the Iranian Fordo nuclear facility.

An Israeli satellite imaging company on Thursday released images showing what it described as “unusual” movement around the Iranian Fordo nuclear facility, a one-time uranium enrichment plant buried deep underground that was converted to a research center as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The photographs, which show large numbers of vehicles at the entrance to the facility and other signs of increased activity there, do not in themselves indicate any violation of the nuclear accord, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The underground site, which has been protected by the powerful S-300 air defense system since 2016, was not shuttered as part of the accord, but the types of activities allowed there were heavily curtailed. Barring a massive, heretofore undetected effort by Iran to bring Fordo back online in violation of the JCPOA, the increased activity could likely be attributed to an attempt by the Islamic Republic to imply that it is prepared to begin enriching uranium at the site if the US pulls out of the agreement. (Times of Israel)

05-02-2018
Nuclear Program

A top Iranian diplomat warned that if the United States withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal in the coming days, Tehran could resume its uranium enrichment activities.

A top Iranian diplomat warned on Wednesday that if the United States withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal in the coming days, Tehran could resume its uranium enrichment activities. “Iran would be ready to go back to the previous situation,” Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, told CNN in an interview. “It could be enriching uranium. It could be redefining our cooperation with the [International Atomic Energy Agency], and some other activities that are under consideration.” Baeidinejad also said President Donald Trump is not being “constructive.” (The Daily Beast)

04-30-2018
Nuclear Program

Revealing a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accused Iran of lying for years about its efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

Revealing a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accused Iran on Monday of lying for years about its efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Days before President Trump was to decide whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Netanyahu presented records from a secret warehouse in Tehran, making the case that Iranian leaders had deceived the international nuclear agency when they insisted their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Israeli spies seized the documents in an overnight raid in January, a senior Israeli official said. (New York Times)

04-30-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran has the technical capability to enrich uranium to a higher level than it could before a multinational nuclear deal was reached to curb its nuclear program, state TV quoted the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying.

Iran has the technical capability to enrich uranium to a higher level than it could before a multinational nuclear deal was reached to curb its nuclear program, state TV quoted the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying. U.S. President Donald) Trump has given European signatories to the 2015 deal a May 12 deadline to “fix the terrible flaws” in the agreement, or he will refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran. Salehi warned Trump against taking that course. “Iran is not bluffing. ... Technically, we are fully prepared to enrich uranium higher than we used to produce before the deal was reached. ... I hope Trump comes to his senses and stays in the deal.” (Reuters)

04-30-2018
Human Rights

Iran moved to shut down the messaging app Telegram, highlighting the regime’s concern over the popular platform’s role in organizing widespread unrest that has rippled through the country in recent months.

Iran moved to shut down the messaging app Telegram on Monday, highlighting the regime’s concern over the popular platform’s role in organizing widespread unrest that has rippled through the country in recent months. Using the app was prohibited as of Monday under a ruling by a Tehran-based court, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The order said Telegram gave Islamic State “safe ground” in an attack in Tehran last year and also blamed its role in protests in December and January, the biggest in Iran in almost a decade. It ordered telecommunications providers to block the service. (Wall Street Journal)

04-26-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iran's supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite against the United States, saying Tehran would never yield to "bullying," state television reported.

Iran's supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite against the United States, saying Tehran would never yield to "bullying," state television reported on Thursday. "The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist... All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. (Reuters)

 

 

04-25-2018
Extremism

Iran is promoting a domestically-produced mobile messaging app, complete with a "Death to America" emoji, in an attempt to get millions of Iranians to abandon the popular Telegram service, which it blames for promoting unrest in the country.

Iran is promoting a domestically-produced mobile messaging app, complete with a "Death to America" emoji, in an attempt to get millions of Iranians to abandon the popular Telegram service, which it blames for promoting unrest in the country. Among the features on new app Soroush are a series of emojis featuring a chador-clad woman clutching a picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and placards wishing death to Israel, America and Freemasons. (CNN)

04-25-2018
Syria Conflict

US intelligence is monitoring a series of cargo flights from Iran into Syria that the US suspects may be carrying weapons systems into Syria for potential use by Bashar al-Assad's regime or Iranian forces.

US intelligence is monitoring a series of cargo flights from Iran into Syria that the US suspects may be carrying weapons systems into Syria for potential use by Bashar al-Assad's regime or Iranian forces, CNN has learned. An administration official confirms to CNN that the flights took place and the US and Israel are both concerned the cargo could potentially include weapons that could eventually be used to threaten Israel. While weapons shipments into Syria are not uncommon, these flights involving Iran have caught the attention of US intelligence because they occurred in the days after the April 13 US airstrikes on Assad regime targets. (CNN)

04-25-2018
Human Rights

Iran has arrested a British-Iranian dual citizen who traveled to Tehran from London on an invitation to speak at an academic workshop, according to friends of his family and human-rights organizations.

Iran has arrested a British-Iranian dual citizen who traveled to Tehran from London on an invitation to speak at an academic workshop, according to friends of his family and human-rights organizations. Abbas Edalat, a professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College and a British-Iranian dual citizen, was arrested in Tehran, friends of the family said. The arrest of Abbas Edalat, a professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College in London, comes at a time of particularly tense relations between Iran and the West over the fate of the nuclear deal. (Wall Street Journal)

04-25-2018
Anti-Americanism

A top Iranian general has threatened to sink the US Navy’s ships, warning that the US would find itself in a “catastrophic situation” amid an ongoing war of words between the countries over the possibility President Trump could exit the nuclear deal.

A top Iranian general has threatened to sink the United States Navy’s ships, warning that the US would find itself in a “catastrophic situation” amid an ongoing war of words between the countries over the possibility President Donald Trump could exit a landmark nuclear deal. “The actual information that the Americans have about us is much less than what they think they have. When will they figure this out? When it is too late,” the Revolutionary Guard Corps’s navy commander, Admiral Ali Fadavim, told Iranian television on Saturday. “They will definitely figure it out when their ships are sunk, or when they find themselves in a catastrophic situation,” Fadavi threatened in an interview with IRINN TV, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute. (Times of Israel)

04-24-2018
Nuclear Program

A senior Iranian official said that Tehran might quit a treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons if U.S. President Donald Trump scraps the nuclear accord Iran signed with world powers in 2015.

A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran might quit a treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons if U.S. President Donald Trump scraps the nuclear accord Iran signed with world powers in 2015. In a news conference broadcast on state television, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was ready for some “surprising actions” if the nuclear deal was scrapped. Answering a question about the possibility of Tehran withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Shamkhani said: “This is one of three options that we are considering.” (Reuters)

04-20-2018
Extremism

The deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatened Israel with destruction, saying, “the finger is on the trigger and the missiles are ready at any given moment that the enemy conducts something against us, and we will launch them.”

The deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatened Israel with destruction on Friday, saying, “the finger is on the trigger and the missiles are ready at any given moment that the enemy conducts something against us, and we will launch them.” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was speaking before Friday prayers in Tehran. (Ha’aretz)

04-19-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran warned the United States of “unpleasant” consequences if Washington pulls out of a multinational nuclear deal, Iranian state TV reported.

Iran warned the United States on Thursday of “unpleasant” consequences if Washington pulls out of a multinational nuclear deal, Iranian state TV reported. “Iran has several options if the United States leaves the nuclear deal. Tehran’s reaction to America’s withdrawal of the deal will be unpleasant,” TV quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on his arrival in New York. (Reuters)

04-18-2018
Military

An unidentified air-launched cruise missile, rarely seen, was on display at Iran’s Army Day parade.

An unidentified air-launched cruise missile, rarely seen, was on display at Iran’s Army Day parade on Wednesday. Marked with initials of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, the missile features trapezoidal grid fins ― most commonly associated with U.S. missiles ― and a seeker in the tip. According to Ian Williams, associate director of the CSIS Missile Defense Project, this suggests the mysterious missile is equipped with some kind of homing guidance. A sign written in Farsi that accompanied the missile said the munition is “electro-optically guided up to 100 km.” During the parade, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country would “produce or acquire any weapons we need,” without waiting for approval from the international community. (Defense News)

04-16-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary forces have laid siege to an American air base northwest of Baghdad to pressure the US military not to use Iraqi airspace for any attacks against the Assad regime in Syria, Iranian and Lebanese media outlets reported.

Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary forces have laid siege to an American air base northwest of Baghdad to pressure the US military not to use Iraqi airspace for any attacks against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, Iranian and Lebanese media outlets reported. Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, a mouthpiece of the Revolutionary Guards, quoted the Arabic-language al-Diyar newspaper as saying that the militia forces encircling the American base were equipped with heavy weapons, including ground-to-ground and anti-aircraft missiles and tanks. According to the newspaper, a commander of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) – also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi – has threatened the US commander in charge of the al-Zahra base that the militia forces would attack the installation if it is used for flying fighter jets to attack Syria. The Lebanese paper added that the US military has asked the Iraqi government to deploy army troops to break the siege. (Middle East Institute)

04-15-2018
Syria Conflict

The Yemeni government says that Iran supplied the Houthi rebels with drones used to attack Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni government says that Iran supplied the Houthi rebels with drones used to attack Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, Riyadh said it shot down two drones in the south of the country and intercepted ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen. The drones are “made in Iran”, said Yemen’s internationally-recognised government on Saturday. It added that the country’s military did not possess such aircraft and it was “impossible to manufacture them locally”. (The National)

04-14-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said coordinated air strikes on Syria by the United States, France and Britain were a crime that would bring no benefit.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said coordinated air strikes on Syria by the United States, France and Britain on Saturday were a crime that would bring no benefit. “Today’s dawn attack on Syria is a crime. I clearly declare that the president of the United States, the president of France and the British prime minister are criminals,” Khamenei said in a speech, according to his Twitter account. “They will not benefit (from the attack) as they went to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the past years and committed such crimes and did not gain any benefits,” Khamenei added. (Reuters)

04-12-2018
Extremism

“If Israel wants to continue its treacherous existence ... it should avoid stupid measures. If they give excuses to Iran, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be destroyed,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative said.

Iran could destroy Israel so Tel Aviv should avoid any stupid measures against the Islamic Republic, the supreme leader’s representative to the Quds force said on Thursday according to the semi-official Fars news agency. “If Israel wants to continue its treacherous existence ... it should avoid stupid measures. If they give excuses to Iran, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be destroyed,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative at the Quds force cleric Ali Shirazi was quoted by Fars as saying. “Iran can destroy Israel.” The Quds Force is the espionage and paramilitary wing, in charge of overseas operations, of the elite Revolutionary Guards. (Reuters)

04-12-2018
Human Rights

“More than half (51%) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran,” according to a report released on April 12 by London-based international human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

In a report released on April 12, London-based international human rights watchdog Amnesty International said “more than half (51%) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran.” Iran ranks second in the world after China in terms of executions and has “carried out 84% of the global total number of executions with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.” However, Amnesty International has observed that there has been “a slight decrease (5%) in execution figures” in Iran compared to 2016. (Radio Farda)

04-10-2018
Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the United States would regret withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond in "less than a week" if that happened.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that the United States would regret withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond in "less than a week" if that happened. "We will not be the first to violate the accord but they should definitely know that they will regret it if they violate it," Rouhani told a conference to mark National Nuclear Technology Day in Tehran. "We are much more prepared than they think, and they will see that if they violate this accord, within a week, less than a week, they will see the result." (Agence France Presse)

04-05-2018
Politics

A group of 300 conservative figures in Iran wrote an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asking for structural reforms for the country.

A group of 300 conservative figures in Iran wrote an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asking for structural reforms for the country. The letter, which was published on various Telegram channels, was billed as an open letter from “officials of revolutionary organizations and student activists … about existing concerns regarding the state of the Islamic Republic and the need for fundamental reforms.” The letter is rare given that calls for reform addressed directly to the supreme leader typically do not come from the right but from Reformist figures or groups.

 

The letter stated that while these groups of activists have written about the state of the country regarding their concerns, they have never written to Khamenei directly. However, in accordance with their view, “day by day the government is resembling a lifeless body and breaking from within … and in consideration that the country needs structural and fundamental reforms … and no other official has the discretion,” they decided it was time to address Khamenei directly. (Al-Monitor)

04-04-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran's influence is looming large as Iraqis prepare to head to the polls for parliamentary elections in May, with many in the country worried that Tehran may be looking to strengthen its political grip on Baghdad through the ballot box.

Iran's influence is looming large as Iraqis prepare to head to the polls for parliamentary elections in May, with many in the country worried that Tehran may be looking to strengthen its political grip on Baghdad through the ballot box.

Iranian support and military advisers helped Baghdad's Shiite-led government beat back the Islamic State group. But with IS militants now largely defeated militarily, Iran's expanding influence has emerged as one of Iraq's most divisive issues ahead of the balloting.

That influence has sown fear among Iraq's disenchanted minority Sunnis, who bore the brunt of the war's destruction, and has also caused concern in Washington. Despite tensions between the United States and Iran, both remain key allies of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month accused Iran of "mucking around" in Iraq's upcoming elections, telling reporters the U.S. has what he called "worrisome evidence" that Iran is funneling "not an insignificant amount of money" into Iraq to try to sway votes. Baghdad rejected the accusation. (Associated Press)

04-03-2018
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attacked the United States and Israel for their roles in Syria before he boarded a plane for Turkey where he was scheduled to meet President Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attacked the United States and Israel for their roles in Syria before he boarded a plane for Turkey where he was scheduled to meet President Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Americans are against the Syrian government establishing its authority throughout the whole country and are even thinking of a breakup [of the country],” he said in a ceremony broadcast live from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.

“There’s interference from Zionist forces in Syria which has increased problems. They don’t respect Syrian national sovereignty. They bomb areas in Syria. They support terrorists. These are all issues which have increased Syria’s problems,” he said. (Reuters)

04-02-2018
Human Rights

The husband of a British-Iranian woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, being held in an Iranian jail said the case had now gone beyond his worst fears, with the two-year anniversary of her detention passing without any sign of her release.

The husband of a British-Iranian woman being held in an Iranian jail said the case had now gone beyond his worst fears, with the two-year anniversary of her detention due to pass on Tuesday without any sign of her release.

The MP Tulip Siddiq said she believed Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, had been given false hope by the Foreign Office in the run-up to Boris Johnson’s visit to Iran late last year.

She said she had seen hope ebb away after the charity worker was detained past Christmas and also beyond the Iranian new year two weeks ago.

Ratcliffe has not seen his wife or his daughter Gabriella since his wife’s detention in 2016. (The Guardian)

03-30-2018
Military

Four days into 2018, two Iranian nationals tried to buy parts of an advanced missile in Kyiv, according a spokesperson for the Ukrainian intelligence service. This effort appears to have violated a UN arms embargo on Iran.

Four days into 2018, two Iranian nationals tried to buy parts of an advanced missile in Kyiv, according a spokesperson for the Ukrainian intelligence service. This effort appears to have violated a UN arms embargo on Iran.

Masked men in Ukraine’s secret police arrested the men and found parts of the missile in their vehicle, according to the spokesperson. What followed became a secret diplomatic incident, and both men were detained and then quietly deported to Iran.

Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, described this all to American government officials during a recent trip to Washington.

The attempt as alleged by Ukrainian intelligence sources likely violated United Nations’ prohibitions on Iranian arms procurement. And it shows Iran may intend to procure weapons that would let it make the Persian Gulf more dangerous than ever. (Daily Beast)

03-28-2018
Terrorism

Top Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk said that Hamas-Iran relations were the closest they had been since the Syrian civil war blew up in 2011.

Top Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk has said in an interview to London’s Al-Hiwar television station that Hamas-Iran relations were the closest they had been since the Syrian civil war blew up in 2011.

 His comments were reported on Wednesday by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center after years of the Syrian war in which Hamas and Iran reduced their cooperation as Iran supported the Shi’ite-allied Assad regime and Hamas supported a range of Sunni rebel forces.

But with the Assad regime having mostly defeated the Sunni forces and with Hamas’ resources and allies limited to a historic low, Abu Marzouk said that no one had any right to criticize Hamas for accepting military or economic aid from Iran. (Jerusalem Post)

03-27-2018
Human Rights

The Islamic Republic of Iran, along with China, Syria, Turkey, and Vietnam, held its position as one of the five largest prisons for journalists in the world as of the end of the last Iranian year ending March 21, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The Islamic Republic, along with China, Syria, Turkey, and Vietnam, held its position as one of the five largest prisons for journalists in the world as of the end of the last Iranian year ending March 21, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) told Radio Farda.

Speaking to Radio Farda’s Mahtab Vahidi Rad, RSF Iran Desk Head Reza Moeinei said Iran ranked 165 out of 180 countries listed according to how dangerous they are for journalists, with 180 being the most dangerous.

Iran has been among the 15 most dangerous countries for journalists since Reporters Without Borders (RSF) initiated the rankings more than twenty years ago, evaluating countries on the basis of their degree of safety for media staff. (Radio Farda)

03-26-2018
Syria Conflict

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels fired a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting Saudi Arabia on the third anniversary of a kingdom-led war in Yemen, with fragments of one missile over Riyadh killing one person and wounding two.

Yemen's Shiite rebels fired a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting Saudi Arabia late Sunday on the third anniversary of a kingdom-led war in Yemen, with fragments of one missile over Riyadh killing one person and wounding two. The casualties were the first in Saudi Arabia's capital since the Saudi-led war in Yemen began in March 2015, though previous rockets fired by the Yemeni rebels have caused deaths in other parts of the kingdom.

The rebels known as Houthis said they launched a missile attack targeting Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport and other sites, again showing their ability to strike deep into the neighboring kingdom amid the stalemated war in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country. (CBS News)

03-26-2018
Syria Conflict

Roadside bombs disguised as rocks in Yemen bear similarities to others used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and by insurgents in Iraq and Bahrain, suggesting at the least an Iranian influence in their manufacture, a watchdog group said.

Roadside bombs disguised as rocks in Yemen bear similarities to others used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and by insurgents in Iraq and Bahrain, suggesting at the least an Iranian influence in their manufacture, a watchdog group said on Monday.

The report by Conflict Armament Research comes as the West and United Nations researchers accuse Iran of supplying arms to Yemen’s Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held the country’s capital since September 2014.

Those weapons allegedly included ballistic missiles used to target Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition of Arab nations backed by the United States that is stuck in a stalemate war with the Houthis. A barrage of Houthi missile fire late on Sunday killed one person in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and wounded two others. (Associated Press)

03-23-2018
Terrorism

The Trump administration announced sanctions and criminal indictments against an Iranian hacker network it said was involved in “one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns” ever ever prosecuted by the United States.

The Trump administration on Friday announced sanctions and criminal indictments against an Iranian hacker network it said was involved in “one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns” ever prosecuted by the United States, targeting hundreds of U.S. and foreign universities, as well as dozens of U.S. companies and government agencies, and the United Nations. None of the alleged hackers were direct employees of the Iranian government, but all worked at the behest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, officials said. While not the first such punishments imposed on Iran for malicious cyber acts, the new measures address more extensive Iranian efforts than previously alleged. Nine of 10 named individuals were connected to the Mabna Institute, a Shiraz-based tech firm that the Justice Department alleged hacks on behalf of Iranian universities and the IRGC. The institute conducted “massive, coordinated intrusions” into the computer systems of at least 144 U.S. universities and 176 foreign universities in 21 countries, including Britain and Canada, officials said. (Washington Post)

03-21-2018
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran has neutralized US plans in the Middle East, in a speech marking the Persian New Year.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran has neutralized US plans in the Middle East, in a speech Wednesday marking the Persian New Year. “Those who interfere in all the affairs of the world protest and ask: ‘Why does Iran intervene in the affairs of Iraq and Syria?’ What is it to you? The Islamic Republic of Iran has succeeded in neutralizing US plans in the region,” he said. Khamenei accused the United States of planning to “create oppressive and rebel groups like Daesh [the Islamic State group] to distract people in the region from the Zionist regime [Israel] and keep them occupied with internal conflicts.” (Agence France Presse)

03-19-2018
Politics

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disclosed the size of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei's fortune estimated at $800 billion toman, the equivalent of about $190 bln.

In an uncommon escalation of the brewing power struggle within the different wings in Iran, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disclosed the size of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei's fortune estimated at $800 billion toman, the equivalent of about $190 bln, accusing him of stealing people' money and advancing oppression to silence critics. The dolatebahar website, associated with Ahmadinejad, published two lengthy letters on Sunday from Ahmadinejad addressing Khamenei, criticizing the acquisition of some $190 bln in illegal ways that are not subject to financial control by the institutions of the Supreme Leader. According to Ahmadinejad, these funds were appropriated to institutions under the control of the leader's office, counting the Benayad 15 Khordad Foundation, the Benayad Mistaathafen Foundation, the Stad Agri Ferman Imam Center, the Revolutionary Guard Cooperative Benyad Taawon Sibeh, the army cooperative Benayad Artash , the Basij Cooperation Niyad Basij cooperation, the Ministry of Defense Cooperative Benayad Cooperative for Defense Ministries and the Khomeini Charitable Committee Khimtah Imded Imam Khomeini. (Al Arabiya)

03-15-2018
Syria Conflict

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday accused Iran of funneling money into Iraq to sway the outcome of its elections in May, calling it part of a broader pattern of destabilizing Iranian actions across the Middle East.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday accused Iran of funneling money into Iraq to sway the outcome of its elections in May, calling it part of a broader pattern of destabilizing Iranian actions across the Middle East. Mr. Mattis declined to say what outcome Iran was aiming for in Iraq, but he said it was sending “not an insignificant amount of money” to the country to sway votes. He mentioned no dollar amounts. (New York Times)

03-14-2018
Politics

Escalating street protests by Iranians against water shortages in a rural part of central Iran have inspired more domestic criticism of the government's handling of the nation's water resources.

Escalating street protests by Iranians against water shortages in a rural part of central Iran have inspired more domestic criticism of the government's handling of the nation's water resources. Overseas-based human rights groups say the protests by farmers in Varzaneh in Isfahan province began last month and escalated into violent confrontations with security forces last week. Iranian state-affiliated news agency Mehr said a member of parliament for Isfahan province blamed the violence on the government. In a report published Sunday, Mehr quoted Hassan Kamran-Dastjerdi as telling an open session of parliament that Iran's energy ministry has "plundered" water from Varzaneh's farmers by redirecting it to steel factories and refineries in neighboring areas. He said the farmers had been working on the land along the Zayandeh River for centuries. (Voice of America)

03-12-2018
Human Rights

An unnamed British-Iranian national has been sentenced to six years in prison on spying charges, the official news agency of Iran’s judiciary reported, the latest dual national convicted in the country.

An unnamed British-Iranian national has been sentenced to six years in prison on spying charges, the official news agency of Iran’s judiciary reported Sunday, the latest dual national convicted in the country. Mizan news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announcing the sentencing, though he did not elaborate on what the charges entailed. However, there is no known case of a British-Iranian national being sentenced to six years in prison, suggesting this is a new case. (Associated Press)

03-11-2018
Human Rights

British broadcaster the BBC said it was appealing to the United Nations to protect its journalists in Iran after it said persecution and harassment by the Iranian authorities escalated in 2017.

British broadcaster the BBC said on Monday it was appealing to the United Nations to protect its journalists in Iran after it said persecution and harassment by the Iranian authorities escalated in 2017. “The BBC is taking the unprecedented step of appealing to the United Nations because our own attempts to persuade the Iranian authorities to end their harassment have been completely ignored,” BBC Director General Tony Hall said in a statement. “In fact, during the past nine years, the collective punishment of BBC Persian Service journalists and their families has worsened.” (Reuters)

03-08-2018
Human Rights

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seeking to stop women removing their head scarves in public, defended the garments Thursday, saying wearing them protected against “a deviant lifestyle.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seeking to stop women removing their head scarves in public, defended the garments Thursday, saying wearing them protected against “a deviant lifestyle.” The comments were the first from Iran’s most powerful figure since the spread of a movement in which women remove their head scarves, or hijabs, in the streets, to protest against laws requiring them to don them in public places. Scores of women have been captured on video with their heads uncovered in 2018 in cities and towns across the country. “By promoting modest dress (#hijab), #Islam has blocked the path which would lead women to such a deviant lifestyle,” Mr. Khamenei said Thursday on his official Twitter account. “Hijab is a means of immunity, not restriction.” (Wall Street Journal)

03-07-2018
Nuclear Program

A senior Iranian military official said his country has tripled its missile production, amid efforts by the international community to curb it.

A senior Iranian military official said his country has tripled its missile production, amid efforts by the international community to curb it. Speaking at his military headquarters, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, also slammed the world powers, including Israel, for their “hypocrisy” in trying to contain Iran’s military aspirations and limit its missile production, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Wednesday. “In the past we had to explain our actions to various bodies, but not any more,” he said. “The law of the world is the hands of the United States, Britain, France and the Zionist regime and they have written these laws with arrogance. But if they want they change them.” (Times of Israel)

03-05-2018
Human Rights

Iran has arrested activists and political opponents in a clampdown on freedom of expression as use of torture continues despite promises of reform, a United Nations report said.

Iran has arrested activists and political opponents in a clampdown on freedom of expression as use of torture continues despite promises of reform, a United Nations report said on Monday. The report was compiled by Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer serving as U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran who died suddenly last month. Her report to the U.N. Human Rights Council was finalised, although diplomats said Tehran had tried to block its publication. (Reuters)

03-05-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran said it could produce higher enriched uranium within two days if the United States quit a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers.

Iran said on Monday it could produce higher enriched uranium within two days if the United States quit a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers, Tehran’s Arabic language al-Alam TV reported. “If America pulls out of the deal ... Iran could resume its 20 percent uranium enrichment in less than 48 hours,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, told al-Alam TV. Uranium refined to 20 percent fissile purity is well beyond the 5 percent normally required to fuel civilian nuclear power plants, though still well short of highly enriched, or 80-90 percent, purity needed for a nuclear bomb. (Reuters)

03-03-2018
Terrorism

Bahrain said it had rounded up 116 members of an armed network established and supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, suspected of plotting attacks on Bahraini government officials and security forces.

Bahrain said on Saturday it had rounded up 116 members of an armed network established and supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, suspected of plotting attacks on Bahraini government officials and security forces. The interior ministry in Bahrain said in a statement that investigators found sites used by the militants to manufacture and store explosives intended to be used for “terrorist attacks”. (Reuters)

03-01-2018
Terrorism

An Iran-based hacking group that in the past has conducted domestic surveillance is turning its gaze outward across the Middle East, according to a new report from Symantec.

An Iran-based hacking group that in the past has conducted domestic surveillance is turning its gaze outward across the Middle East, according to a new report from Symantec. The cybersecurity firm said last year, the group attacked organizations in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the sectors the group, known as Chafer, has targeted include airlines, aircraft services, telecom firms, and technology companies serving the air and sea transport sectors. (CNBC)

03-01-2018
Extremism

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his "resistance" after seven years of war.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters, on Thursday praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his "resistance" after seven years of war. "Syria is on the front lines today; it is our duty to defend the Syrian resistance," Khamenei said, quoted on his official website. "Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, appeared as a great example of resistance and a fighting image; he never hesitated and stood strong: this is extremely important for a nation," he added. (Agence France Presse)

02-28-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran has built another permanent military base outside Syria’s capital city complete with hangers used to store missiles capable of hitting all of Israel, according to Western intelligence sources.

Iran has built another permanent military base outside Syria’s capital city complete with hangers used to store missiles capable of hitting all of Israel, according to Western intelligence sources. Exclusive satellite images from ImageSat International obtained by Fox News show what is believed to be the new Iranian base, eight miles northwest of Damascus, operated by the Quds Force — the special operations arm of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  The photos show two new white hangars, each roughly 30 yards by 20 yards, used to store short- and medium-range missiles. (Fox News)

02-27-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran is a major threat to U.S. interests and the long-term stability of the Mideast, the head of U.S. military's Central Command warned U.S lawmakers.

Iran is a major threat to U.S. interests and the long-term stability of the Mideast, the head of U.S. military's Central Command warned U.S lawmakers Tuesday. "Iran is generating instability across the region, and the Iranian Threat Network continues to increase in strength, enhancing its capacity to threaten U.S. and partner nation interests," General Joe Votel said in a 45-page set of prepared remarks he presented to the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on terrorism. (VOA)

02-27-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran blasted US President Donald Trump’s conditions for renewing a landmark nuclear deal it signed in 2015 between with world powers, calling the conditions “worthless” and “inappropriate.”

Iran blasted US President Donald Trump’s conditions for renewing a landmark nuclear deal it signed in 2015 between with world powers, calling the conditions “worthless” and “inappropriate.” “The US has a long-term experience of raising allegations and projecting the blame on Iran and this story will continue given the US excessive demands,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters Monday in Tehran. “We should not take seriously the words which are in vain and worthless, because such words are continuously repeated and I think that they will not yield any results for the US,” he added, according to the semi-official Fars news site. (Times of Israel)

02-25-2018
Syria Conflict

Iran said pro-Damascus forces would press ahead with attacks on eastern Ghouta, an insurgent enclave near the Syrian capital, in defiance of a U.N. resolution demanding a 30-day truce across the country.

Iran said pro-Damascus forces would press ahead with attacks on an insurgent enclave near the Syrian capital, as ground fighting raged on there in defiance of a U.N. resolution demanding a 30-day truce across the country. Anti-government rebels said they clashed with pro-government forces near Damascus on Sunday, as rescuers and residents said warplanes struck some towns in the eastern Ghouta pocket. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes and artillery killed nine people and injured 31 in the eastern suburbs. (Reuters)

02-23-2018
Human Rights

Iranian security officers have arrested two women who protested against the compulsory hijab in Tehran by removing their head scarves in public and waving them while standing on utility boxes.

Iranian security officers have arrested two women who protested against the compulsory hijab in Tehran by removing their head scarves in public and waving them while standing on utility boxes. Shaparak Shadizadeh, one of the two women arrested, was taken into custody on February 21. Her family said she was beaten up during the arrest. Another woman was reportedly arrested on February 22. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

02-22-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if there is no economic benefit and major banks continue to shun the Islamic Republic, its deputy foreign minister said.

Iran will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if there is no economic benefit and major banks continue to shun the Islamic Republic, its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday. Under the deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions that have crippled its economy. Despite that, big banks have continued to stay away for fear of falling foul of remaining U.S. sanctions - something that has hampered Iran’s efforts to rebuild foreign trade and lure investment. (Reuters)

02-22-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran has disclosed plans to develop nuclear reactors for ships, despite a deal with world powers that curtails its atomic program.

Iran has disclosed plans to develop nuclear reactors for ships, despite a deal with world powers that curtails its atomic program. The project is likely to get a cool response in Washington. Tehran has told United Nations nuclear inspectors of its plan to build nuclear reactors for ships, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday. In a quarterly report on Iran's conformity with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that restricted Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the IAEA said the Islamic Republic remained compliant and had informed the agency of a "decision that has been taken to construct naval nuclear propulsion in future." (Deutsche Welle)

02-20-2018
Extremism

Tel Aviv will be “leveled to the ground” if Israel attacks Iran, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not escape with his life, a senior official in the Islamic republic’s regime threatened.

Tel Aviv will be “leveled to the ground” if Israel attacks Iran, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not escape with his life, a senior official in the Islamic republic’s regime threatened. His comments came in response to Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday at the Munich Security Conference, in which the prime minister brandished a piece of an Iranian drone downed in Israeli airspace and threatened direct military action against Iran. “About Netanyahu’s unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground,” Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council and former chief of the country’s Revolutionary Guards, told the Hezbollah-affiliated Arabic-language al-Manar TV channel Monday. (Times of Israel)

02-15-2018
Extremism

Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, lashed out at Israel during a commemoration for a Hezbollah figure killed in a 2008 Damascus car bombing that the group blamed on Israel.

A top Iranian general has lashed out at Israel during a commemoration for a Hezbollah figure killed in a 2008 Damascus car bombing that the group blamed on Israel. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, pledged retaliation for Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s ex-military chief who was considered one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists by Israel and the United States. Soleimani says the appropriate revenge for Mughniyeh’s slaying is “not launching one missile or killing one person, but the dismantling and uprooting of the baby-killing Zionist regime.” (The Associated Press)

02-14-2018
Syria Conflict

Hezbollah claims it will have nearly half-a-million missiles aimed at Israel within the next year amid ongoing efforts by the Islamic Republic to transfer advanced missile technology to regional hotspots such as Lebanon and Syria.

An Iranian-backed terror group claims it will have nearly half-a-million missiles aimed at Israel within the next year amid ongoing efforts by the Islamic Republic to transfer advanced missile technology to regional hotspots such as Lebanon and Syria, which are located on Israel's borders. Militants tied to Hezbollah, the Iranian-controlled terror group that operates along Israel's northern border in Lebanon, claim they have deployed more than 70,000 long-range missiles across Syria and Lebanon in preparation for a strike on Israel. The number of missiles could grow to nearly half-a-million within the next year, according to these militant groups. (Washington Free Beacon)

02-11-2018
Anti-Americanism

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied to mark the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, denouncing the United States and Israel as oppressors.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Sunday to mark the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, denouncing the United States and Israel as oppressors. In a show of defiance of Western pressure to curb its ballistic missile program, Iran put its Ghadr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) on display in Tehran’s central Vali-ye Asr street. (Reuters)

02-11-2018
Human Rights

An Iranian-Canadian university professor detained in Tehran has died in custody, marking the latest suspicious death of a detainee in Iran after a crackdown on dissent following nationwide protests.

An Iranian-Canadian university professor detained in Tehran has died in custody, activists and a family member said Sunday, marking the latest suspicious death of a detainee in Iran after a crackdown on dissent following nationwide protests. They identified the professor as Kavous Seyed-Emami, a 63-year-old professor of sociology at Imam Sadeq University in Tehran and the managing director of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation. His son and the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran say that authorities told Seyed-Emami's family that he committed suicide in custody, something they described as suspicious following other detainee deaths. (The Associated Press)

02-10-2018
Syria Conflict

In its most serious engagement in neighboring Syria since fighting there began in 2011, Israel shot down an infiltrating Iranian drone and struck Iranian targets deep in Syria before one of its own jets was downed.

In its most serious engagement in neighboring Syria since fighting there began in 2011, Israel shot down an infiltrating Iranian drone Saturday and struck Iranian targets deep in Syria before one of its own jets was downed. The sudden escalation offers what could be a harbinger of what lies ahead as the Syrian fighting winds down and an emboldened Iran establishes a military presence that Israel vows it will never accept. Israel has issued several stern warnings of late about the increased Iranian involvement along its border in Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli Cabinet just held a meeting near the Syrian border to highlight the new threats, which it attributes to Iran's growing confidence given the success of the government of Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war thanks to their support. (ABC News)

02-08-2018
Anti-Americanism

The two main Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq warn that U.S. forces in the country face possible attack by their forces, should Washington not carry out a full withdrawal of American troops from the country.

The two main Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq warn that U.S. forces in the country face possible attack by their forces, should Washington not carry out a full withdrawal of American troops from the country. Members of Shia-led Kata’ib Hezbollah, Badr Organization and other Iranian-linked paramilitaries under the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) banner stood ready to battle back against the American “occupation force” inside Iraq, said Kata’ib Hezbollah spokesman Jafar al-Hussaini. “Iraq will not see stability with America’s presence. The Americans have not entered Iraq based on the Iraqi government’s consent,” Mr. al-Hussaini said in an interview with Lebanese news outlets. “Our combatants have limited weapons but a confrontation with the American forces may begin at any moment. Unlike in the past, the Americans this time will not benefit from any mediation,” he added. (Washington Times)

02-06-2018
Human Rights

An ailing Iranian-American dual national held in Tehran was returned to prison after Iran's government refused to agree to an extended medical release.

An ailing Iranian-American dual national held in Tehran was returned to prison Tuesday after Iran's government refused to agree to an extended medical release, his family and attorney said. Iran's judiciary had allowed 81-year-old Baquer Namazi to leave Evin prison for a few days following recent surgery to install a pacemaker, but his family had hoped it would be extended. Lawyer Jared Genser said Namazi was assessed by Iran's medical examiner, who recommended he be allowed a three-month respite and left open the possibility it could be extended even longer. Amid high hopes that Iran would allow the three-month leave, Namazi's family received a call Tuesday from prison officials informing them that he must return immediately. He was dropped off at the prison shortly thereafter, Genser said, calling it "tantamount to a death sentence that will be imposed quickly." (The Associated Press)

02-06-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has again ruled out negotiations on the country's missiles program, saying it did not aim to make weapons of mass destruction.

Iran's President Hassan Rohani has again ruled out negotiations on the country's missiles program, saying it did not aim to make weapons of mass destruction. "We will not negotiate with anyone about our weapons," Rohani told a press conference in Tehran on February 6. "Our missiles are used to defend ourselves. They are defensive. They have not been made to be used as weapons of mass destruction." (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

02-05-2018
Military

Iran announced that it has begun mass-producing a new weaponized drone that carries smart bombs capable of precision strikes.

Iran announced on Monday that it has begun mass-producing a new weaponized drone that carries smart bombs capable of precision strikes, according to the Islamic Republic's military leaders. Iran, which has engaged in a massive military buildup since receiving billions of dollars in cash windfalls as a result of the landmark nuclear deal, says that these advanced new drones will be delivered to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, which has been coordinating war efforts across the Middle East, including most controversially in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces have attacked U.S. troops. The new drones, dubbed the Mohajer 6, are "equipped with the smart Qa'em precision-striking bombs and different electro-optical explorers and different warheads, [and] can trace, intercept and destroy the target," Iranian Defense Minister and Brigadier General Amir Hatami said on Monday during a speech celebrating the new weaponry. (Washington Free Beacon)

02-05-2018
Syria Conflict

Saudi Arabia's air force intercepts a ballistic missile launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia's air force intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Kingdom's military said Monday. Col. Turki Al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition supporting the Yemeni government, told state media that the missile was launched from Yemen's northern government of Sa'adah and targeted the city of Khamis Mushait, about 100 miles north of the Saudi-Yemen border. Maliki accused the Houthis of targeting densely populated cities and accused the Iranian regime of violating international law by providing "tangible capabilities" to the rebel group. He also called on the international community "to hold Iran accountable for its support and blatant defiance of international norms, values, and laws." (Fox News)

02-02-2018
Human Rights

Tehran police arrest 29 women for appearing in public without a headscarf as protests against the dress code in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979 intensify.

Tehran police have arrested 29 women for appearing in public without a headscarf as protests against the dress code in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979 intensify, Iranian media reported Friday. Those arrested were accused of public order offences and referred to the state prosecutor's office, the Fars, ILNA and Tasnim news agencies reported without elaborating. (Agence France Presse)

02-02-2018
Politics

Iranians are deeply dissatisfied with their government’s management of the economy and want it to do more to fight corruption, according to the first major gauge of public opinion since widespread protests rocked the country last month.

Iranians are deeply dissatisfied with their government’s management of the economy and want it to do more to fight corruption, according to the first major gauge of public opinion since widespread protests rocked the country last month. The survey, carried out by phone interviewers under the auspices of the University of Maryland, provides a rare glimpse of political and economic views in a country where reliable polling is scarce, and comes just weeks after the biggest bout of unrest in Iran this decade caught the ruling class by surprise. Those protests started as complaints against financial fraud and rising prices but very quickly turned into demonstrations against Iran’s regime. (Wall Street Journal)

02-01-2018
Syria Conflict

The top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says the country’s leadership had no intention of reining in its influence across the Middle East despite U.S. pressure to do so.

The top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday the country’s leadership had no intention of reining in its influence across the Middle East despite U.S. pressure to do so, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. U.S. President Donald Trump, who sees Iran as a rising threat to regional stability in the Middle East, has pledged to work with Gulf Arab states and Israel to curb what they say are Tehran’s attempts to extend its influence in the region. “Iran’s influence in the region is inevitable and to remain a key player in the region, this influence will continue,” the adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, was quoted by Fars as saying. (Reuters)

01-30-2018
Human Rights

An Iranian court has sentenced a wealthy Iranian-American art gallery owner and his wife to long prison terms on espionage and other charges.

An Iranian court has sentenced a wealthy Iranian-American art gallery owner and his wife to long prison terms on espionage and other charges, according to a letter he wrote from jail. Karan Vafadari, a 55-year-old landowner and member of the Zoroastrian religious minority, was given a sentence of 27 years in prison, 124 lashes and a cash fine of $243,000 and confiscation of all his assets, according to the letter, which was published Tuesday on the website of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based human-rights organization. Mr. Vafadari’s wife, Afarin Nayssari, a 46-year-old architect and U.S. green-card holder, was sentenced to 16 years in prison, according to the letter, whose authenticity was confirmed by Mr. Vafadari’s family. The couple have been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since July 2016. (Wall Street Journal)

01-25-2018
Syria Conflict

“Iran is currently controlling 82,000 fighters in Syria,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the UN Security Council.

“Iran is currently controlling 82,000 fighters in Syria,” Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the UN Security Council on Thursday. Danon told the executive body that he was ready to expose “classified information” for the first time, “because it is vital for the world to understand that if we turn a blind eye in Syria, the Iranian threat will only grow. This includes 3,000 members of Iran’s infamous Revolutionary Guard, 9,000 fighters from Iran’s proxy Hezbollah, and 10,000 members of violent Shi’a militias recruited from across the Middle East including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition, Iran also directly commands 60,000 local Syrian fighters.” (Jerusalem Post)

01-25-2018
Military

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has green-lighted the siphoning of $2.5 billion from a currency-reserve fund to boost military spending.

With some Iranians still hopping mad about state spending on religious institutions and foreign military ventures, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has green-lighted the siphoning of $2.5 billion from a currency-reserve fund to boost military spending. The announcement follows by less than two weeks an official clampdown on street protests over rising prices and other economic grievances that spread to more than 90 cities, according to RFE/RL's Radio Farda. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

01-18-2018
Terrorism

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh penned a letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei praising Iranian support for the militant group, and particularly Tehran’s “unwavering and valuable” stance on the issue of Jerusalem.

In a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Palestinian Hamas, has praised Iranian support for the militant group, and particularly Tehran’s “unwavering and valuable” stance on the issue of Jerusalem. According to the Iranian media, Haniyeh denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and emphasized in the letter that launching another intifada against Israel would be the best course of action at present. "With the outbreak of the roaring popular Intifada in the West Bank and al-Quds, we will foil with God's permission the conspiracy of the tyrant of the time and the rulers of hypocrisy in the capitals near and far, who want to put an end to the Palestinian issue." He also thanked Khamenei for his guidance to the “resistance movement” and cautioned that Washington’s Jerusalem announcement was part of a broader “conspiracy” to “destroy the pillars of resistance” and pave the way for Israel’s normalization of relations with the Islamic countries in the region. (Middle East Institute)

01-17-2018
Terrorism

German security forces raided the homes of 10 suspected Iranian spies believed to be members of the IRGC Quds Force. The suspected spies had been gathering information on the Israeli embassy in Berlin and targets related to the local Jewish community.

The German journalist who first reported raids by local security forces at the homes of suspected Iranian spies across Germany supplied new details Wednesday about the Israeli and Jewish targets allegedly monitored by the suspects. Josef Hufelschulte, of the weekly German-language magazine FOCUS, told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that the suspected spies had been gathering information on the Israeli embassy in Berlin, as well as on targets related to the local Jewish community, including kindergartens. The operatives were monitored by German intelligence services for two months before the raids were conducted, Hufelschulte said. On Tuesday, German authorities said they were conducting searches across the country in connection with 10 suspected Iranian spies, with FOCUS magazine claiming that they were members of an elite military force that had been eyeing Israeli and Jewish targets. The report said that arrest warrants for the suspects listed them as members of the al-Quds force, which is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. (Times of Israel)

01-08-2018
Nuclear Program

Iran says it might reconsider its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if the United States failed to respect its commitments in the nuclear deal Tehran struck with world powers in 2015.

Iran said on Monday it might reconsider its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if the United States failed to respect its commitments in the nuclear deal Tehran struck with world powers in 2015. U.S. President Donald Trump must decide by mid-January whether to continue waiving U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports under the terms of the nuclear pact that eased economic pressure on Tehran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. In October, Trump refused to certify that Iran was complying with the deal, also known by its acronym JCPOA, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was. “If the United States does not meet its commitment in the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic of Iran would take decisions that might affect its current cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted as telling IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in a phone call. (Reuters)

01-04-2018
Human Rights

More than a thousand people have been rounded up and detained in Iran over the past week as authorities try to quell the largest street protests in nearly a decade.

More than a thousand people have been rounded up and detained in Iran over the past week, rights groups and the State Department said Thursday, as authorities try to quell the largest street protests in nearly a decade.  Amnesty International warned that those being held risk torture and ill-treatment in the country’s prisons, calling for the release of those arrested for demonstrating peacefully. Earlier this week, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Court warned that arrested demonstrators could face the death penalty.  “The Iranian authorities have an appalling track record of carrying out mass arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators,” said Philip Luther, the regional research and advocacy director at Amnesty. “Given the alarming scale of the current wave of arrests, it is highly likely that many of those held are peaceful protesters who have been detained arbitrarily and now find themselves in prisons where conditions are dire and torture is a common tool to extract confessions and punish dissidents.” (Washington Post)

01-02-2018
Human Rights

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Iran's "enemies" for stirring up unrest in the country, as the death toll from days of anti-government protests climbed to 21.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday blamed Iran's "enemies" for stirring up unrest in the country, as the death toll from days of anti-government protests climbed to 21. In his first remarks since the demonstrations erupted last Thursday, Khamenei accused the nation's enemies of "joining forces" and blamed them for the protests that have turned violent. "The enemy is waiting for an opportunity, for a flaw, through which they can enter. Look at these events over the last few days. All those who are against the Islamic Republic -- those who have money, those who have the politics, those who have the weapons, those who have the intelligence -- they have all joined forces in order to create problems for the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution," he said, without naming any particular country. (CNN)

12-24-2017
Syria Conflict

Syrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran’s influence in the war-torn country.

Syrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran’s influence in the war-torn country. The army and the Shi‘ite forces helped by Druze militias in the area advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by some of the heaviest aerial bombing and artillery shelling since a major assault began more than two months ago to seize the area, rebels said. The Syrian army said it had encircled the village of Mughr al Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as troops moved toward Beit Jin amid fierce clashes. On Monday, the army said they had cut off insurgent supply lines and made further advances. The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the southwest of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender. (Reuters)

12-14-2017
Syria Conflict

The United States presents for the first time pieces of what it says were Iranian weapons supplied to the Iran-aligned Houthi militia in Yemen, describing it as conclusive evidence that Tehran is violating U.N. resolutions.

The United States on Thursday presented for the first time pieces of what it said were Iranian weapons supplied to the Iran-aligned Houthi militia in Yemen, describing it as conclusive evidence that Tehran was violating U.N. resolutions. The arms included charred remnants of what the Pentagon said was an Iranian-made short-range ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at King Khaled International Airport outside Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, as well as a drone and an anti-tank weapon recovered in Yemen by the Saudis. Iran has denied supplying the Houthis with such weaponry and on Thursday described the arms displayed as “fabricated.” (Reuters)

12-06-2017
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasts his US counterpart Donald Trump's plan to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, saying it would not be tolerated.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted his US counterpart Donald Trump's plan to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital on Wednesday, saying it would not be tolerated. Rouhani also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone, describing Trump's announcement as "wrong, illegitimate, provocative and very dangerous", according to an account posted on the Iranian government's website. (Agence France Presse)

12-04-2017
Syria Conflict

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels kill the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, punishing him for switching sides and seeking peace with Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s civil war has taken a dramatic turn after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels killed the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, punishing him for switching sides and seeking peace with Saudi Arabia. Pictures of Saleh’s corpse appeared on Houthi-run television after the militia said it had killed him as he fled the capital, Sana’a. He had ruled Yemen for more than 30 years and was forced to resign in 2011 as part of the Arab spring political revolution. Houthi military officials said Saleh was killed as he was travelling with other top party leaders from Sana’a to his hometown of Sanhan. Houthi fighters followed him in 20 armoured vehicles, then attacked and killed him and almost all those with him. Gruesome video footage of his blood-spattered body were distributed on social media. (The Guardian)

11-30-2017
Syria Conflict

For the second time in a month, the Saudi military has intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile it said was launched from Yemen. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed success in the missile launch, saying it was a test firing.

For the second time in a month, the Saudi military has intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile it said was launched from Yemen on Thursday. The Saudi Press Agency, quoting Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the official spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the war in Yemen, said the missile was headed towards the Saudi city of Khamis Mushait on its southwestern border. It was destroyed without causing any casualties, the spokesman was quoted as saying, but there were no details on how the missile was intercepted. Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed success in the missile launch, saying it was a test firing, according to the pro-Houthi news agency SABA in Yemen. (CNN)

11-24-2017
Extremism

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards threatens that any future war in the region will result in the annihilation of Israel.

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday threatened that any future war in the region will result in the annihilation of Israel. “It is a proven claim that today we say any new war will lead to the eradication of the Zionist regime,” Ali Jafari told Iranian reporters in Tehran according to semi-official media outlets. (Times of Israel)

11-16-2017
Syria Conflict

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must disband the majority of the Iran-linked Shia paramilitary groups that fought alongside the army against the Islamic State or risk sparking an outbreak of sectarian violence.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must disband the majority of the Iran-linked Shia paramilitary groups that fought alongside the army against the Islamic State or risk sparking an outbreak of sectarian violence following the terror group’s looming defeat, one of Iraq’s leading Sunni politicians warned Thursday. With the Islamic State nearly pushed out of the country, senior lawmakers and top leaders in the Abadi government face the task of knitting the often-feuding segments of Iraqi society back into a cohesive state, Salim al-Jubouri, speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, said on a visit to Washington. “Our message is not to be desperate” for U.S. or international intervention to avoid renewed fighting between Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and other minorities, he told the Washington-based think tank U.S. Institute for Peace. (Washington Times)

11-15-2017
Syria Conflict

Bahrain says a bomb attack on a police bus which killed an officer and wounded nine last month was carried out by a militant cell trained by its arch-foe Iran.

Bahrain said on Wednesday a bomb attack on a police bus which killed an officer and wounded nine last month was carried out by a militant cell trained by its arch-foe Iran. After authorities quashed Shi‘ite Muslim-led ”Arab Spring” protests on the Sunni-ruled island in 2011, militants have launched deadly bombing and shooting attacks against security forces that Bahrain blames on Tehran’s Shi‘ite theocracy. Iran denies any role in Bahrain’s unrest. (Reuters)

11-10-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran is establishing a permanent military base inside Syria.

Iran is establishing a permanent military base inside Syria, a Western intelligence source has told the BBC. The Iranian military is said to have established a compound at a site used by the Syrian army outside El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus. The report comes amid growing tensions over Iranian influence in Syria and across the region. (BBC)

11-06-2017
Syria Conflict

Yemeni rebels’ missile attack on the Saudi capital could be considered an Iranian act of war, Saudi Arabia says, in a statement likely to intensify tensions between the archrivals.

Yemeni rebels’ missile attack on the Saudi capital on Saturday could be considered an Iranian act of war, Saudi Arabia said, in a statement likely to intensify tensions between the archrivals. Saudi Arabia intercepted the ballistic missile east of Riyadh’s main airport after it flew more than 500 miles from Yemen. It was fired by Houthi rebels, who are seen by Saudi Arabia as proxies of Iran. The Saudi-led military coalition that has been at war with the Houthis in Yemen for more than 2½ years “considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Debris from the missile showed it was made in Iran, the statement said, adding that the coalition “reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner, in accordance with international law and based on the right of self-defense.” (Wall Street Journal)

11-02-2017
Anti-Americanism

The United States is Iran’s “number one enemy” and Tehran will never succumb to Washington’s pressure over a multinational nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says in a televised speech.

The United States is Iran’s “number one enemy” and Tehran will never succumb to Washington’s pressure over a multinational nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Thursday. U.S. President Donald Trump broke ranks with other major powers last month by refusing to formally certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Under that deal, most sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear work. “The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation,” Iran’s top authority Khamenei told a group of students. “America is the number one enemy of our nation.” (Reuters)

10-31-2017
Terrorism

The Israeli military faces thousands of cyber attacks a day and many are orchestrated by Iran whose hacking capabilities are improving.

The Israeli military faces thousands of cyber attacks a day and many are orchestrated by Iran whose hacking capabilities are improving, the Israeli general in charge of network security said. Major General Nadav Padan, who heads the military’s command, control, computer, communications and intelligence (C4I) plus cyber division, told a Reuters Summit that Iran has mounted attacks on Israel with the help of proxies like Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah. “They are not the state of the art, they are not the strongest superpower in the cyber dimension, but they are getting better and better,” Padan said. (Reuters)

10-26-2017
Human Rights

A U.N. special rapporteur says there has been little change in the human rights situation in Iran over the past year, voicing outrage over the harassment of journalists and adding that progress on women’s rights was extremely slow.

A U.N. special rapporteur said on Thursday there had been little change in the human rights situation in Iran over the past year, voicing outrage over the harassment of journalists and adding that progress on women’s rights was extremely slow. A day after submitting her report to the world body, Asma Jahangir, the U.N. special rapporteur on the Iran rights situation, told reporters that torture was widespread in Iran and that some people were imprisoned for seeking justice. Jahangir said she had not attempted to assess the impact of sanctions on human rights in Iran in her report because she had not been allowed to visit the country, which does not recognize her mandate. (Reuters)

10-18-2017
Nuclear Program

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Tehran willstick to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as long as the other signatories respected it, but will "shred it" if the United States pulled out.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would stick to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as long as the other signatories respected it, but would "shred it" if the United States pulled out, state TV reported. Khamenei spoke five days after U.S. President Donald Trump adopted a harsh new approach to Iran by refusing to certify its compliance with the deal, reached under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, and saying he might ultimately terminate it. (Reuters)

10-13-2017
Nuclear Program

President Trump officially disavowed the international nuclear deal with Iran, undermining but not terminating an agreement he called weak and poorly constructed.

President Trump on Friday officially disavowed the international nuclear deal with Iran, undermining but not terminating an agreement he called weak and poorly constructed. The administration asked Congress to attach new caveats that could either alter the pact or lead to its rupture. Sounding frustrated and angry, Trump also threatened to unilaterally withdraw from the seven-nation accord if his concerns are not met. “We will not continue down the path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Trump said in remarks delivered at the White House. His decision to withdraw presidential “certification” of the deal throws its future into doubt by tying continued U.S. participation to new requirements for Iran. But the approach also falls well short of Trump’s repeated campaign vow to scrap the deal altogether, marking the latest collision between his “America first” worldview and the realities of global diplomacy and dealmaking. (Washington Post)

10-09-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran tried to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs, raising questions about a possible violation of the 2015 agreement intended to stop Tehran’s drive to become an atomic armed power.

Iran tried to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs, raising questions about a possible violation of the 2015 agreement intended to stop Tehran’s drive to become an atomic armed power, according to three German intelligence reports obtained by Fox News. The new intelligence, detailing reports from September and October and disclosed just ahead of President Trump’s planned announcement Thursday on whether the U.S. will recertify the Iran deal, reveals that Iran’s regime made “32 procurement attempts … that definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation programs.” According to the document, the 32 attempts took place in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. (Fox News)

10-08-2017
Anti-Americanism

Iran warnes the United States against designating its Revolutionary Guards Corp as a terrorist group and says U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions are passed.

Iran warned the United States against designating its Revolutionary Guards Corp as a terrorist group and said U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions were passed. The warning came after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would announce new U.S. responses to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations as part of his new Iran strategy. “As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” Guards’ commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to state media. (Reuters)

10-02-2017
Human Rights

Seven reformists in Iran including a brother of ex-president Mohammad Khatami have been given one-year jail terms and banned from all political and media activity for two years.

Seven reformists in Iran including a brother of ex-president Mohammad Khatami have been given one-year jail terms and banned from all political and media activity for two years, one said Monday. "I can confirm this report but we will have to appeal," university academic Mohammad Reza Jalaipour told AFP in a text message. Lawyer Hojat Kermani, quoted by ILNA news agency, named four of the other reformists convicted as ex-deputy parliament speaker Mohammad Reza Khatami, former legislator Mohsen Safaie Farahani, Azar Mansouri, a member of an advisory panel for president Khatami during his 1997-2005 term, and Hossein Kashefi. (Agence France Presse)

09-27-2017
Military

The commander of the Iranian Navy, announced that researchers are studying on nuclear-fueled engines for submarines, warships and destroyers to make them needless of refueling in long voyages in international waters.

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of the Iranian Navy, announced on Tuesday that researchers are studying on nuclear-fueled engines for submarines, warships and destroyers to make them needless of refueling in long voyages in international waters. In December 2016 President Hassan Rouhani ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels. (Tehran Times)

09-23-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard unveil its latest ballistic missile capable of reaching much of the Middle East, including Israel.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Friday unveiled its latest ballistic missile capable of reaching much of the Middle East, including Israel, while the country’s president vowed that Tehran would press ahead with its missile program in defiance of U.S. demands to the contrary. The unveiling came during a military parade in Tehran that commemorated the 1980s Iraq-Iran war. The move was a direct challenge to President Trump, who in August signed a bill imposing mandatory penalties on those involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. (The Associated Press)

09-12-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran signs deals with Damascus to repair Syria’s power grid.

Iran signed deals with Damascus on Tuesday to repair Syria’s power grid, state media said, a potentially lucrative move for Tehran that points to a deepening economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict. Shunned by Western powers, the Syrian government is looking to friendly states such as Iran, Russia and China to play a major role in rebuilding the country, as the war heads toward its seventh year. Since at least 2012, Iran has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, helping it regain control of swathes of the country. Iran experts say Tehran is now looking to reap a financial dividend. (Reuters)

09-09-2017
Nuclear Program

North Korea’s sudden advancement in developing nuclear weapons may be due to secret support from Iran, British officials fear.

North Korea’s sudden advancement in developing nuclear weapons may be due to secret support from Iran, British officials fear. The Foreign Office is investigating whether “current and former nuclear states” helped Kim Jong-Un in his drive to mount nuclear warheads on missiles. Senior Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph it is not credible that North Korean scientists alone brought about the technological advances. Iran is top of the list of countries suspected of giving some form of assistance, while Russia is also in the spotlight. (The Telegraph)

09-03-2017
Human Rights

Iran confirms that an appeals court has upheld 10-year jail terms against a U.S. citizen, two Iranian-Americans and a U.S. resident from Lebanon who had been convicted on spying charges.

Iran confirmed on Sunday that an appeals court had upheld 10-year jail terms against a U.S. citizen, two Iranian-Americans and a U.S. resident from Lebanon who had been convicted on spying charges. In July, U.S. President Donald Trump warned that Iran would face “new and serious consequences” unless all “unjustly detained” American citizens were released and returned. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi identified the four as Princeton University student Xiyue Wang, Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his elderly father Baquer and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen with permanent U.S. residency, the judiciary’s official news website reported. (Reuters)

08-29-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran dismisses a U.S. demand for United Nations nuclear inspectors to visit its military bases as “merely a dream”.

Iran has dismissed a U.S. demand for United Nations nuclear inspectors to visit its military bases as “merely a dream”. It also said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was unlikely to agree anyway. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, last week pressed the IAEA to seek access to Iranian military bases to ensure that they were not concealing activities banned by the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and six major powers. (Reuters)

08-29-2017
Terrorism

Hamas has managed to increase its military capabilities recently and Tehran is again its biggest backer after years of tension, according to Hamas’ leader in Gaza Strip Yehya al-Sinwar.

Hamas has managed to increase its military capabilities recently and Tehran is again its biggest backer after years of tension, according to Hamas’ leader in Gaza Strip Yehya al-Sinwar. Sinwar told reporters that Iran is now “the largest backer financially and militarily” of Hamas’s armed wing. It was his first meeting with journalists since taking up his post in February. “Relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms,” Sinwar said in a meeting in his office in the strip. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

08-28-2017
Military

Iran’s advanced S-300 air defense system, delivered by Russia after years of delay, is now “fully integrated” into the air defense network.

Iran’s advanced S-300 air defense system, delivered by Russia after years of delay, is now “fully integrated” into the air defense network, a senior Iranian air force commander told the country’s state media Sunday. In an interview with the Tasnim news network, Gen. Abolfazl Sepehri Rad, deputy commander of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, said the missile defense system has been stationed across Iran and is ready for “practical operations.” (Times of Israel)

08-23-2017
Syria Conflict

New photographs show Iran shipping militant soldiers to Syria on commercial airline flights.

New photographs obtained by congressional leaders show Iran shipping militant soldiers to Syria on commercial airline flights, a move that violates the landmark nuclear agreement and has sparked calls from U.S. lawmakers for a formal investigation by the Trump administration, the Washington Free Beacon has learned. Photographs published by a Washington, D.C., think-tank and provided to Congress show Iran using its flagship commercial carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militants to Syria, where they have joined the fight against U.S. forces in the region. The new photographic evidence has roiled congressional leaders, who accuse Iran of violating the nuclear deal, which prohibits it from using commercial air carriers for military purposes. These lawmakers are demanding the Trump administration investigate the matter and consider imposing new sanctions on Iran. (Washington Free Beacon)

08-22-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran’s atomic chief says the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could quickly be further enriched for use in a nuclear weapon.

Iran’s atomic chief said Tuesday the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could quickly be further enriched for use in a nuclear weapon. The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi to Iranian state television come as U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly has threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal. Salehi’s warning, along with recent comments by President Hassan Rouhani, show Iran is willing to push back against Trump while still acknowledging it wants to keep the deal, which lifted crippling economic sanctions. (The Associated Press)

08-20-2017
Syria Conflict

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his army has foiled Western attempts to overthrow his government thanks to assistance from allies including Russia, Iran, and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his army has foiled Western attempts to overthrow his government thanks to assistance from allies including Russia, Iran, and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement. "Their direct support -- politically, economically, and militarily -- has made possible bigger advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war," Assad said during a televised address on August 20. He stressed, however, that "the battle continues" and that it was too early to speak of victory in the country's 6 1/2-year-old civil war. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

08-15-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran's president issues a direct threat to the West, claiming his country is capable of revitalizing its nuclear program within hours and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels.

Iran's president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of revitalizing its nuclear program within hours and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than when Iran reached a deal with world powers that limited its ability to produce nuclear weapons. Hassan Rouhani's remarks to lawmakers follow the Iranian parliament's move earlier this week to increase spending on the country's ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. (The Associated Press)

08-13-2017
Military

Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to increase the country’s budget for its ballistic missile program and foreign operations by the Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to increase the country’s budget for its ballistic missile program and foreign operations by the Revolutionary Guards, a direct challenge to new United States sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Some lawmakers should “Death to America” after the outlines of the bill to “counter America’s terrorist and adventurist actions” were passed by an overwhelming number of votes in Parliament, state television reported. The increase in the military budget and other measures came in retaliation to legislation passed by Congress and reluctantly signed by President Trump this month to impose new sanctions on Iran over its missile program. (New York Times)

08-08-2017
Anti-Americanism

An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. A statement released by the military’s Central Command said that despite repeated radio calls demanding that Iran keep the drone clear of American flight operations in the vicinity of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, the Iranian vehicle came within 100 feet of the fighter jet, which had to swerve to avoid a collision. (New York Times)

08-08-2017
Politics

Iran's newly re-elected President has not included any women in his proposed list of 17 ministers reneging on an election pledge to his largely reformist base.

Iran's newly re-elected President has not included any women in his proposed list of 17 ministers, according to Iranian state media, reneging on an election pledge to his largely reformist base. Hassan Rouhani presented his list of Cabinet nominees for all but one of the 18 minister roles on Tuesday. The exclusion of women from the proposed list was widely expected, though appointing a female minister was a central promise made by Rouhani during the election campaign. (CNN)

08-01-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have started using a new route across the Gulf to funnel covert arms shipments to their Houthi allies in Yemen’s civil war.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have started using a new route across the Gulf to funnel covert arms shipments to their Houthi allies in Yemen’s civil war, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters. In March, regional and Western sources told Reuters that Iran was shipping weapons and military advisers to the Houthis either directly to Yemen or via Somalia. This route however risked contact with international naval vessels on patrol in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. For the last six months the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has begun using waters further up the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran as it looks for new ways to beat an embargo on arms shipments to fellow Shi‘ites in the Houthi movement, Western and Iranian sources say. (Reuters)

07-30-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran has built up a multinational network of tens of thousands of young men from across the Middle East, turning them into a well-drilled fighting machine that is outgunning the US on the battlefield.

Iran has built up a multinational network of tens of thousands of young men from across the Middle East, turning them into a well-drilled fighting machine that is outgunning the US on the battlefield, as Tehran outsmarts the White House in the corridors of power. These men can be found leading the defense of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, recapturing land from ISIS in Iraq, and fighting for control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. The transnational militia of Shiite men — which has no official title — is now the dominant force in the region, enabling Iran to take full advantage in the absence of a coherent strategy from the Trump White House. Over six months, BuzzFeed News spoke to researchers, officials, and militia fighters who described what they knew about the Iranian program, overseen by the secretive Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and its infamous commander Qassem Suleimani — who often shows up on front lines in Iraq and Syria. (BuzzFeed News)

07-27-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran successfully tests a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, an action the United States says breaches a U.N. Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development.

Iran successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, state television reported on Thursday, an action the United States said breaches a U.N. Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development. Iranian state television showed footage of the firing of the rocket, mounted on a launchpad carrying pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The rocket launch violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday. (Reuters)

07-16-2017
Human Rights

An American student from Princeton University is arrested in Iran and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges he was spying for the United States.

An American student from Princeton University was arrested in Iran and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges he was spying for the United States, an Iranian judiciary official said on Sunday, an action bound to aggravate relations between the two countries. The arrest and sentencing of the American, Xiyue Wang, a graduate student in history, was announced months after he had vanished in Iran, where he was doing research for a doctoral thesis. There had been rumors of his arrest, but the announcement on Sunday from Iran was the first official confirmation. (New York Times)

07-12-2017
Human Rights

Following a pause in executions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Iran has carried out 56 executions over a 12 day period.

Following a pause in executions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, executions in Iran have dramatically increased since Saturday July 1.  In the past twelve days, Iran Human Rights has reported on 56 executions carried out in Iran. 31 of the 56 prisoners were reportedly hanged on drug related charges. Only seven of the 56 executions were reported by official Iranian sources, including the Judiciary and state-run media. (Iran Human Rights)

07-06-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran is targeting German companies in its bid to advance its missile program, in possible violation of an international agreement, and at least on occasion with the aid of a Chinese company.

Iran is targeting German companies in its bid to advance its missile program, in possible violation of an international agreement, and at least on occasion with the aid of a Chinese company, according to a damning recent report from a German intelligence agency. The 181-page report, published last month and released Tuesday by officials from the heavily industrialized southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, warned that Iran is actively seeking “products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well missile technology.” The Islamic Republic is targeting German companies through various fronts, according to the report. “[Iran is seeking] products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well missile technology.” “This case shows that so-called indirect deliveries across third countries is still Iran’s procurement strategy,” wrote the intelligence officials. (Fox News)

07-04-2017
Anti-Americanism

Iranian artist Hadi Asadi has beaten hundreds of other contestants to win first place in a “Trumpism” cartoon contest held in Tehran — his winning caricature depicting President Trump as a flame-haired man wearing a suit made of dollar bills.

Iranian artist Hadi Asadi has beaten hundreds of other contestants to win first place in a “Trumpism” cartoon contest held in Tehran — his winning caricature depicting President Trump as a flame-haired man wearing a suit made of dollar bills, drooling onto a pile of books. The competition, called the International Trumpism Cartoon and Caricature Contest, was announced last month. It was organized by a group that has also organized cartoon contests on themes such as the Islamic State and the Holocaust (the group says the latter was designed to highlight double standards on free speech). (The Washington Post)

06-27-2017
Nuclear Program

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley says that she's worried Iran will acquire nuclear weapons and provide them to terrorist groups, with the tacit support of the Russians.

President Trump's top diplomat at the United Nations said Tuesday that she's worried Iran will acquire nuclear weapons and provide them to terrorist groups, with the tacit support of the Russians. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley told a House Appropriations subcommittee that she believes the Iran nuclear agreement reached under the Obama administration will only "delay something that's going to happen," which is Iran's achievement of a nuclear weapon. She said that poses the risk that Iran could share that technology with terrorist groups it supports. "They're going to continue their nuclear capabilities and we just gave them a lot of money to do it with," she said. "And my concern is they are associating with are all the groups we're trying to defeat." "So, not only did we give that capability to Iran, we are now giving it to those terrorist organizations we're trying to defeat," she added. (Washington Examiner)

06-24-2017
Extremism

Iran holds major anti-Israel rallies across the country with protesters chanting “Death to Israel” and declaring that destroying the Jewish state is “the Muslim world’s top priority.”

Iran held major anti-Israel rallies across the country Friday, with protesters chanting “Death to Israel” and declaring that destroying the Jewish state is “the Muslim world’s top priority.” Iranians participating in Quds Day rallies also called for unity among pro-Palestinian groups against the “child-murdering” Israeli government, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard used the demonstration in the capital’s Valiasr Square to showcase three surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, including the Zolfaghar — the type that Iran used this week to target the Islamic State group in Syria. (The Times of Israel)

06-23-2017
Terrorism

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq. His comments indicated that the same array of Iranian-backed Shi‘ite militias - but not countries - currently fighting in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad could take part in any future conflict with Israel. (Reuters)

06-18-2017
Anti-Americanism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and what he characterized as its hostility to the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out on Sunday at U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and what he characterized as its hostility to the Islamic Republic. “This inexperienced group has not recognized the people and leaders of Iran,” he said, according to the website for state TV. “When they get hit in the mouth, at that time they’ll know what’s going on.” (Reuters)

06-14-2017
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian vessel trained a laser on a U.S. Marines helicopter in an incident the Navy deemed “unsafe and unprofessional.”

An Iranian vessel trained a laser on a U.S. Marines helicopter Tuesday in an incident the Navy deemed “unsafe and unprofessional,” the U.S. military said Wednesday. “Naval Forces Central Command assesses this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessel shining a laser on one of the formation’s helicopters,” Fifth Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban said in statement.  “Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles.” (The Hill)

06-09-2017
Terrorism

U.S. authorities have charged two operatives belonging to the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah with terrorism offenses, accused of plotting to target American and Israeli targets in New York and Panama.

U.S. authorities have charged two operatives belonging to the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah with terrorism offenses, accused of plotting to target American and Israeli targets in New York and Panama. Police arrested Samer El Debek, 37, of Dearborn, Michigan, and Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx, New York, on June 1. They both appeared in a Manhattan federal court on Thursday. U.S. authorities said the pair had been supporting “Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad organization” and had been in Lebanon for weapons and bomb-making training. (Newsweek)

06-05-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran is believed to be developing advanced nuclear-related capabilities that could significantly reduce the time it needs to build a deliverable nuclear weapon.

Iran is believed to be developing advanced nuclear-related capabilities that could significantly reduce the time it needs to build a deliverable nuclear weapon, according to statements by Iranian officials that have fueled speculation among White House officials and nuclear experts that the landmark accord has heightened rather than reduced the Islamic Regime's nuclear threat. The head of Iran's nuclear program recently announced the Islamic Republic could mass produce advanced nuclear centrifuges capable of more quickly enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon. Work of this nature appears to violate key clauses of the nuclear agreement that prohibits Iran from engaging in such activity for the next decade or so. The mass production of this equipment "would greatly expand Iran's ability to sneak-out or breakout to nuclear weapons capability," according to nuclear verification experts who disclosed in a recent report that restrictions imposed by the Iran deal are failing to stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear pursuits. (Washington Free Beacon)

05-30-2017
Terrorism

Iran has agreed in principle to renew its funding for the Hamas terror group.

Iran has agreed in principle to renew its funding for the Hamas terror group, according to a report published in a London-based Arabic daily Tuesday. Palestinian officials told Asharq al-Awsat that Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of the Gaza-based terror group, will visit Tehran in the near future to bridge gaps between the parties and resolve old disagreements. The deal to restore Hamas’s financial support came after marathon meetings in Lebanon between officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hamas, and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, the report said. (The Times of Israel)

05-25-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran is trying to gain a military base near the Israeli-Syrian border.

Iran is trying to gain a military base near the Israeli-Syrian border, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers warned the Trump administration. "A permanent Iranian military base in Syria, potentially near the border with Israel or Jordan, would increase Iran's operational capacity to inflict serious damage against two of our closest allies in the region," Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Washington Examiner)

05-22-2017
Military

Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a submarine in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a submarine in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday but the test failed, two U.S. officials told Fox News. An Iranian Yono-class “midget” submarine conducted the missile launch. North Korea and Iran are the only two countries in the world that operate this type of submarine. (Fox News)

05-12-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances according to the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic "would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons." The disclosure comes just days after Iranian leaders announced the upcoming launch of two new domestically produced satellites. Iran has long used its space program as cover for illicit missile work, as the know-how needed to launch such equipment can be applied to long-range ballistic missile technology. Daniel Coats, America's top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran's ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony. (Washington Free Beacon)

05-10-2017
Politics

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that any disrupters of national elections will receive a “slap in the face.”

Iran’s highest leader said on Wednesday that any disrupters of national elections, which are less than two weeks away, would receive a “slap in the face,” underscoring the political tensions lurking behind the vote. The warning came in a widely publicized speech by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to graduating cadets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the powerful paramilitary force, in which he emphasized that security was the most important issue in the May 19 election, when Iranians will choose a new president and city and village councils. (New York Times)

05-03-2017
Military

Iran is using the billions in cash resources provided under the nuclear deal to engage in an unprecedented military buildup.

Iran is using the billions in cash resources provided under the landmark nuclear deal to engage in an unprecedented military buildup meant to transform the Islamic Republic's fighting force into an "offensive" juggernaut, according to a largely unreported announcement by Iranian military leaders that has sparked concern among U.S. national security insiders and sources on Capitol Hill. Iranian officials announced late last month that Iran's defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it "a forward moving force," according to regional reports. (Washington Free Beacon)

04-26-2017
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf.

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf, an American official said on Wednesday, the latest tense naval encounter between the two countries. The incident happened Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The “Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” McConnaughey said in a statement to The Associated Press. (Associated Press)

04-20-2017
Syria Conflict

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Iran and its ally Hezbollah of conspiring to destabilize the Middle East.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Iran and its ally Hezbollah on Thursday of conspiring to destabilize the Middle East - a charge "categorically" rejected by Iran's U.N. envoy as a misleading propaganda campaign perpetrated by Israel and others in the region. Haley is the current Security Council president and she asked members to focus on the factors causing conflicts across the region during their monthly meeting on the situation in the Middle East instead of engaging in what she called routine "Israel bashing." Her targets at the open meeting, where over 50 countries spoke, were Iran and Hezbollah who are supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, training "deadly militias" in Iraq and arming Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. "For decades, they have committed terrorist acts across the region," Haley said. (Washington Post)

04-20-2017
Nuclear Program

President Donald Trump says Iran is failing to fulfill the "spirit" of its nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran is failing to fulfill the "spirit" of its nuclear deal with world powers, President Donald Trump declared Thursday, setting an ominous tone for his forthcoming decision about whether to pull the U.S. out of the landmark agreement. As he often had during the president campaign, Trump ripped into the deal struck by Iran, the U.S. and other world powers in 2015 and said "it shouldn't have been signed." Yet he pointedly stopped sort of telegraphing whether or not the U.S. would stay in. "They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that," Trump said of the Iranians, though he did not mention any specific violations. Earlier this week, the administration certified to Congress than Iran was complying - at least technically - with the terms of the deal, clearing the way for Iran to continue enjoying sanctions relief in the near term. (AP)

04-19-2017
Syria Conflict

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says, "We will have to overcome Iran's efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it..."

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that Iran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen, as the United States weighs increasing support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting there. At least 10,000 people have been killed and more than 3 million displaced in the war in Yemen, now in its third year. Millions of people are also struggling to feed themselves. "We will have to overcome Iran's efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it," Mattis told reporters in Riyadh after meeting senior Saudi officials. Mattis said the goal was for there to be a political solution through U.N.-brokered negotiations to resolve the conflict in Yemen. (Reuters)

04-19-2017
Syria Conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accuses Iran of 'alarming ongoing provocations' to destabilize countries in the Middle East.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of 'alarming ongoing provocations' to destabilize countries in the Middle East as the Trump administration launched a review of its policy toward Tehran.Tillerson told reporters the review, which he announced on Tuesday, would not only look at Tehran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal but also its behavior in the region which he said undermined U.S. interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. His tough words matched those of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said in a visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday that Iran's destabilizing influence would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen. (Reuters)

04-18-2017
Human Rights

The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested more than 30 men who are believed to be gay at a private party last week in the Esfahan province.

The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested more than 30 men who are believed to be gay at a private party last week in the Esfahan province.  The prominent Canadian NGO Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) first reported on the violent crackdown, saying the men were between the ages of 16 and 30. "IRQR received several reports in last few days and were able to confirm that police attacked guests and physically beat them. Police detained them all at the Basij (Revolutionary Guard Militia) Station and then transferred them to Esfahan's Dastgerd Prison. A few people managed to escape and we received reports that there were several heterosexual individuals among those arrested," the human rights NGO wrote in its website on Thursday. (JPost)

04-18-2017
Syria Conflict

A ceremony in Iran's holy city of Qom shines a light on Iran's widening influence over an armed fringe of the opposition in Bahrain.

At a wake in Iran's holy city of Qom in February, a small group of Bahraini emigres and clerics mourned a young militant killed in a gun battle with Bahrain's security forces. The eulogy was delivered by an exiled Bahraini cleric who has called for the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority to uproot the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy in a holy war. "The choice of resistance is widening and spreading on the ground," said the cleric, Murtada al-Sanadi, who has been named by the United States as a "specially designated global terrorist" backed by Iran. The ceremony shines a light on Iran's widening influence over an armed fringe of the opposition in Bahrain, a country with a strategic value that belies its small size. It hosts a U.S. naval base and is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, Iran's main regional rival. A quickening tempo of mostly crude bombing and shooting attacks has accompanied a government crackdown, which culminated last year in the dissolution of the main opposition bloc. (Reuters)

04-15-2017
Military

President Hassan Rouhani says, "The strengthening of the capability of the Iranian armed forces ... is only for defending the country and we will ask no one's permission to build up the armed forces, and to build missiles and aircraft."

Iran will ask "no one's permission" to build up its missile capability, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday, in what appeared to be a defiant response to U.S. efforts to hamper the Iranian military. Facing an election in May where he hopes to secure a second four-year term, Rouhani has had to defend himself from opponents who say he has been too eager to appease the West, after agreeing to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the nuclear deal and said during his election campaign he would stop Iran's missile program. After Iran test-fired a new ballistic missile in January, Trump tweeted that it was "playing with fire". Addressing an event showcasing some locally built military hardware, broadcast on state TV, Rouhani said: "The strengthening of the capability of the Iranian armed forces ... is only for defending the country and we will ask no one's permission to build up the armed forces, and to build missiles and aircraft." (Reuters)

04-13-2017
Human Rights

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctions Gen. Soleimani's brother, Sohrab Soleimani, who has been accused of committing human-rights violations as head of the Tehran Prisons Organization.

The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned the brother of Iran's top spy master and military strategist for alleged human-rights violations, amid growing calls by Congress for the White House to confront Tehran and bring home U.S. citizens still imprisoned in the country. Successive U.S. administrations have fixated on curtailing the activities of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of international operations of Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Gen. Soleimani is overseeing Iran's military operations in Syria, which are designed to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. and its Middle East allies also said they have seen Gen. Soleimani's hand in Revolutionary Guard military activities in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Gen. Soleimani's brother, Sohrab Soleimani, who has been accused of committing human-rights violations as head of the Tehran Prisons Organization. (WSJ)

04-13-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country's Western-backed government.

Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country's Western-backed government. The moves come as tensions have flared between the United States, Iran and Russia over the conflict in Syria, and officials worry that the fallout could hurt Afghanistan's chances for peace. For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal. Now, as the Taliban gains ground and the White House appears to lack a clear Afghan policy, Iran and Russia have boosted support for insurgents and sidelined the United States from regional diplomacy on the war. Russia on Friday will host high-level talks on Afghanistan with Iranian, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats, the Kremlin said. But the United States, irked by Moscow's recent outreach to the Taliban, has not confirmed whether it will attend. (Washington Post)

04-12-2017
Human Rights

Iranian social media activists arrested ahead of next month's presidential elections are being held on security and obscenity charges.

Iranian social media activists arrested ahead of next month's presidential elections are being held on security and obscenity charges, the judiciary said Wednesday. "Some of these people have been arrested on national security charges and some... for committing crimes against public decency and publishing obscene content," deputy judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie told the Mizan Online news agency. Twelve people who run reformist and pro-government discussion forums on the popular messaging app Telegram were arrested last month. Authorities released no information at the time of their arrests and the detainees have not appeared in open court. Local media said the Telegram channels were shut down after the arrests. At least one was restored within a few days, but has not posted anything since March 17. (AFP)

04-11-2017
Human Rights

The European Union extends until April 2018 sanctions against Iran for "serious human rights violations."

The European Union on Tuesday extended until April 2018 sanctions against Iran for "serious human rights violations", a narrower measure than restrictions the bloc had already lifted after an international accord on Tehran's nuclear programme. The EU has pursued rapprochement with Iran since the 2015 nuclear deal, which reversed a decade of hard-hitting Western financial and trade sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Top EU officials have been shuttling in and out of Tehran since, often accompanied by large European business delegations. But the bloc has also extended by a year its travel ban and an asset freeze on 82 Iranian people and one entity, as well as a ban on exports to Iran of equipment for monitoring telecommunications and other gear that "might be used for internal repression." (Reuters)

04-10-2017
Syria Conflict

In a statement released by Russia and Iran, "The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines..."

A statement released by "the joint command operation center of Syrian allies," a group that includes Russia and Iran, warned the U.S. against further military actions in the war-torn country, following a missile strike on a Syrian air base last week. Referring to its defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the group warned that they would support Syria and its people "with all means that we have." "The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines," the statement read. "America knows very well our ability and capabilities to respond well to them, [and] we will respond without taking into consideration any reaction and consequences." The statement did not include critical details like what kind of military operation would cross such a red line, or what kind of response would be made on the part of Syria and its allies, but noted that they would work to "liberate" Syria from occupation. (ABC News)

04-07-2017
Human Rights

On April 7, 2017, hundreds of runners took part in Tehran's first-ever marathon, but many women were outraged to find they could only run a short distance in a closed-off stadium.

Hundreds of runners took part in Tehran's first-ever marathon on Friday, but many women were outraged to find they could only run a short distance in a closed-off stadium.While men ran through Iran's capital in the morning, women were allowed to run just 10 kilometers (six miles) in Azadi stadium in the afternoon - with no male spectators or officials permitted. Many were baffled by the move, since there are no rules against men and women running together in Iran - and joggers of both sexes are often seen in parks and public areas. "I registered but I quit. I took back my 500,000 rials ($15) because we were deceived," Nasim, an architect in her 30s, told AFP. (AFP)

04-06-2017
Politics

The announcement that a prominent conservative cleric will run for Iran's presidency next month has transformed the race, potentially unifying opponents to President Hassan Rouhani in a strong challenge to his re-election.

The announcement that a prominent conservative cleric will run for Iran's presidency next month has transformed the race, potentially unifying opponents to President Hassan Rouhani in a strong challenge to his re-election. Ebrahim Raisi declared his candidacy on Thursday, according to Tasnim news agency, a day after two other conservatives, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, bowed out. The emergence of a single strong opponent could not only narrow Rouhani's chance of winning on May 19, but also position Raisi as the front-runner to succeed 77-year-old Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader, when he dies. "This is going to be a very serious race with huge consequences for the Iranian electorate," Sanam Vakil, an associate fellow at Chatham House, said by phone. "The stakes are very high." (Bloomberg)

03-31-2017
Terrorism

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis says Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity.

Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in London on Friday. Asked about comments Mattis made in 2012 that the three primary threats the United States faced were "Iran, Iran, Iran," Mattis told reporters that Iran's behavior had not changed in the years since. "At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today," Mattis said. (Reuters)

03-30-2017
Syria Conflict

Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh condemn what they termed Iran's support for "terrorist gangs" in Bahrain and urge Tehran to stop fueling "sectarian conflicts".

Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh on Thursday condemned what they termed Iran's support for "terrorist gangs" in Bahrain and urged Tehran to stop fueling "sectarian conflicts". In a statement issued at the end of a meeting in Riyadh, the ministers of the Arab states of the Gulf expressed "condemnation of the provocative and irresponsible statements, and acts of aggression by the Iranian regime towards the kingdom of Bahrain". They also deplored Tehran's "support to terrorist gangs" and accused it of "fueling sectarian strife to harm national unity in the kingdom". The ministerial council urged Iran to "abandon politics that lead to nourishing sectarian and confessional conflicts, and to stop forming and supporting groups and militias that fuel these conflicts in Arab states." (AFP)

03-29-2017
Syria Conflict

Yemen's embattled president has launched a scathing verbal attack on Iran, saying the non-Arab and mostly Shiite nation is pursuing expansionist policies to destroy the Arab identity.

Yemen's embattled president has launched a scathing verbal attack on Iran, saying the non-Arab and mostly Shiite nation is pursuing expansionist policies to destroy the Arab identity. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told an Arab summit in Jordan on Wednesday that Iran "is the true sponsor of terrorism." Civil war has raged in Yemen for two years. The fighting pits Hadi's troops, backed by a Saudi-led international military coalition of mostly Arab states, against Shiite Houthi rebels, led by Abdul-Malek al-Houthi and backed by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his forces. Iran supports fellow Shiite Houthis. (Associated Press)

03-29-2017
Syria Conflict

The nation's top military official in the Middle East says Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region.

The nation's top military official in the Middle East on Wednesday said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region. "I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone," Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony Wednesday. "And it's an area between normal competition between states - and it's just short of open conflict." The general said Iran is exploiting this area in a variety of different ways, through things such as "lethal aid facilitation," the use of "surrogate forces" and cyber activities, among other things. He also believes Iran poses "the greatest long-term threat to stability" in the entire region. (CNBC)

03-28-2017
Terrorism

A German court has sentenced a 31-year-old Pakistani, Haider Syed Mustafa, to four years and three months in prison for spying for Iran by seeking out possible Jewish and Israeli-related targets for attacks in Germany and France.

A German court has sentenced a 31-year-old Pakistani to four years and three months in prison for spying for Iran by seeking out possible Jewish and Israeli-related targets for attacks in Germany and France. The German news agency dpa reported Tuesday that Haider Syed Mustafa was convicted by a Berlin court for collecting extensive material on the former head of the German-Israeli Association and on a French-Israeli professor from an economic university in Paris, for the elite Quds Force unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. No attacks were carried out. Mustafa, who came to Germany in 2012 to study for an engineering degree at the University of Bremen, received more than 2,000 euros (2,170 dollars) for his spying activities which included shooting hundreds of photos and creating presentations on the potential targets. He refused to testify during the trial. (Associated Press)

03-27-2017
Human Rights

Three prisoners by the names of Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari have reportedly been sentenced to death by Iranian courts based solely on opinions or beliefs they expressed.

Three prisoners by the names of Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari have reportedly been sentenced to death by Iranian courts based solely on opinions or beliefs they expressed. "Verdicts like the ones issued to Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari are reminiscent of the ones issued in the medieval times. The international community must speak out about their death sentences. We call for global condemnation," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights. According to close sources, Sina Dehghan, a resident of Tehran, was arrested on October 21, 2015 by Ministry of Intelligence agents from the city of Arak. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Dehghan was reportedly just finishing up his mandatory military service at a base in Tehran operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Close sources say that prior to his arrest, Sina Dehghan along with Mohammad Nouri, Sahar Elyasi, and an individual under the age of 18 used the messenger app "Line" to share content that the judicial and security authorities in Iran consider offensive to Islam. (Iran Human Rights)

03-26-2017
Terrorism

Bahrain says it has broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials.

Bahrain said on Sunday it had broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials, state news agency BNA reported. The agency quoted an Interior Ministry statement as saying that the 14-member cell was working under direct supervision from two exiled Bahrainis living in Iran, one of them recently designated by the United States as a "global terrorist". Tensions have been rising in the kingdom since last year after authorities stepped up a crackdown on dissent, banning the main opposition group al-Wefaq, arresting a leading activist and critic of the government and revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the country's majority Shi'ites. (Reuters)

03-26-2017
Anti-Americanism

Iran has imposed sanctions on 15 U.S. companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel.

Iran has imposed sanctions on 15 U.S. companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel, the state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, in a tit-for-tat reaction to a move by Washington. The agency quoted Iran's foreign ministry as saying the companies had "flagrantly violated human rights" and cooperated with Israel in its "terrorism" against the Palestinians and the expansion of Jewish settlements. It was not immediately clear if any of the companies, which included defense technology firm Raytheon, had any dealings with Iran or whether they would be affected in any way by Tehran's action, which IRNA said would include seizure of their assets and a ban on contacts with them. The sanctioned companies also included ITT Corporation, United Technologies and specialty vehicles maker Oshkosh Corp. (Reuters)

03-22-2017
Syria Conflict

Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen's rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi'ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East.

Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen's rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi'ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say. Iran's enemy Saudi Arabia is leading a Sunni Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian peninsula - part of the same regional power struggle that is fuelling the war in Syria. Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, said that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the two-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria. (Reuters)

03-22-2017
Anti-Americanism

U.S. Navy commanders accuse Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and say future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash.

U.S. Navy commanders accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and said future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash. They spoke after the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted what one of the commanding officers described as two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on Tuesday on a journey from the Indian Ocean into the Gulf. It was the first time a U.S. carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30 percent of global oil exports pass annually, since President Donald Trump took office in January pledging a tougher U.S. stance toward Iran. (Reuters)

03-20-2017
Nuclear Program

Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif warns that if the United States continues reneging on its commitments under the nuclear deal the Islamic Republic will resume its nuclear activities with "even greater" speed.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned late on Monday that if the United States continues reneging on its commitments under the nuclear deal to the extent that Iran sees the keeping of the deal not in conformity with its national interests the Islamic Republic will resume its nuclear activities with "even greater" speed. The July 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, went into effect in January 2016. According to the JCPOA, Iran put limits on its nuclear activities in return for a termination of all nuclear related sanctions. To back up his statement, Zarif told reporters in Isfahan that Iranian experts have succeeded to develop the country's "most advanced" centrifuges which are capable of refining uranium 20 times more than the old generations, ISNA reported. (Tehran Times, "Zarif: Iran Will Resume Nuclear Work With 'Greater Soeed' if U.S. Violates Deal," 3/20/2017).

03-19-2017
Extremism

In honor of Iranian mother's day, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter to assert that the West considers women to be "goods and means of pleasure" and that this is the product of the "Zionists' plot."

In honor of Iranian mother's day, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter Sunday to share his views on gender issues, asserting that the West considers women to be "goods and means of pleasure" and that this is the product of the "Zionists' plot." The seven-tweet ramble came on the birth anniversary of Fatimah Zahra, the daughter of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, which is also designated as mother's day in the country. Accordingly, Khamenei began his message by identifying Fatimah's positive traits that make her the "perfect role model for Muslim women." These included "grandeur & stature beyond human's understanding and imagination." (Times of Isreal)

03-18-2017
Human Rights

Iranian MPs have criticized the arrests of journalists and social media organizers, with one directly accusing the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian MPs have criticized the arrests of journalists and social media organizers ahead of the presidential election in May, with one directly accusing the elite Revolutionary Guards in a letter published Saturday. The arrests in recent days are alleged to have targeted unnamed people who run channels on the popular messaging site Telegram supporting reformists and the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani. Two prominent journalists - Ehsan Mazandarani and Morad Saghafi - have also been detained. Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist MP, wrote an open letter to Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari, calling on the organization to stay out of politics. (AFP)

 

03-17-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran has challenged the need for it to ship sensitive material abroad if its stock exceeds a limit set by its nuclear deal with major powers.

Iran has challenged the need for it to ship sensitive material abroad if its stock exceeds a limit set by its nuclear deal with major powers. The challenge raises the prospect of a confrontation with the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump because diplomats say Iran is only months away from reaching that cap. The 2015 deal restricts Iran's atomic activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against Tehran. One restriction is on its stock of heavy water, a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium, like an unfinished one at Arak that had its core removed under the accord. Iran has already exceeded the 130-tonne limit on its heavy water stock twice. The latest standoff with Washington over the issue was only defused in December when Iran shipped the excess amount to Oman, where the heavy water is being stored until a buyer can be found. In a letter to the U.N. nuclear watchdog circulated to member states on Thursday and posted on the agency's website, however, Iran argued that the deal does not require it to ship excess heavy water out of the country. (Reuters)

03-17-2017
Human Rights

Iran's hardline judiciary has sentenced the daughter of late Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to jail for "anti-state propaganda, spreading lies against the judiciary and the Revolutionary Guards Corps."

Iran's hardline judiciary has sentenced the daughter of late Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to jail for "anti-state propaganda, spreading lies against the judiciary and the Revolutionary Guards Corps", the opposition website Kalemeh reported on Friday. The Islamic Republic has piled pressure on the pro-reform opposition ahead of a presidential election on May 19, when hardline rivals of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani hope to regain control of executive power. "Again Faezeh Hashemi has been sentenced to six months' jail because of her critical remarks about Judiciary and the Guards," Kalemeh reported. Judicial officials were not immediately available to comment. The 55-year-old Hashemi, a women's rights activist and a former member of parliament, has 21 days to appeal the sentence. She was also jailed for six months in 2012 for "spreading anti-state propaganda". (Reuters)

03-15-2017
Human Rights

Security agents arrest Morad Saghafi, the reformist editor-in-chief of Goftegoo (Conversation) magazine.

Amid a widening crackdown on journalists and activists in Iran ahead of the country's May 2017 presidential election, security agents arrested Morad Saghafi, the reformist editor-in-chief of Goftegoo (Conversation) magazine, on March 15, 2017. His lawyer, Hamed Zargar, said on March 16 that Saghafi had a phone conversation with a family member the day after he was arrested, and has little chance of being released on bail before the start of the Iranian New Year on March 21. Saghafi owns the Shirazeh (Essence) publishing house and is the executive director of Yek Shahr (One City), a non-governmental organization that aims to "elevate the people's ability to enjoy their rights as citizens and improve their lives." (Center for Human Rights in Iran)

03-13-2017
Human Rights

The son of a detained Iranian opposition leader has been sentenced to six months in jail.

The son of a detained Iranian opposition leader has been sentenced to six months in jail, his brother said on Monday, after releasing an open letter from his father demanding to be put on trial after years of his house arrest. Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament, has been under house arrest since 2011 with his fellow presidential contender Mir Hussein Mousavi after denouncing the results of 2009 election as rigged, and calling for street protests. His son, Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, was accused of publishing propaganda against the state over the letter to President Hassan Rouhani in which Karroubi said: "I want you to ask the despotic regime to grant me a public trial." (Reuters)
 

03-13-2017
Human Rights

According to a UN monitor studying human rights in Iran, "Reformists in Iran are under pressure, detainees face torture and abuse, and people are being executed at an 'alarming' rate."

Reformists in Iran are under pressure, detainees face torture and abuse, and people are being executed at an "alarming" rate, a UN monitor studying human rights in the tightly controlled country says. The bleak picture presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 13 comes ahead of a May 19 presidential election in Iran. "All reports indicate a high level of control over citizens and that democratic space is severely limited," Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur for Iran, told the council in Geneva. Jahangir did not refer directly to the election, but she noted that three opposition figures who publicly challenged the official results of Iran's 2009 presidential election -- former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi; his wife, university professor Zahra Rahnavard; and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi -- have been kept under house arrest for nearly six years without being formally charged. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

03-13-2017
Terrorism

Iran has established rocket factories in Lebanon that are under the full control of the Hezbollah terror group.

Iran has established rocket factories in Lebanon that are under the full control of the Hezbollah terror group, a top Iranian general told a Kuwaiti newspaper. Citing one of the deputy heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the al-Jarida newspaper reported Monday that Iran in recent months has established factories for manufacturing both rockets and firearms in Lebanon. The newspaper did not say which of IRGC chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari's deputies made the assertion. The report came just days after Iran's Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, a former brigadier general in the IRGC, said Hezbollah is now capable of producing rockets that can hit any part of Israel. Dehghan offered no details of the new capabilities. (Times of Israel)

03-12-2017
Human Rights

Iranian, Afarin Nayassar, and a US-Iranian dual national, Karan Vafadari, were sentenced to death in Iran on charges of founding a "cult" and promoting moral corruption.

An Iranian and a US-Iranian dual national were sentenced to death in Iran on Sunday on charges of founding a "cult" and promoting moral corruption. The defendants, who have not been named, are believed to be a couple involved in the art industry who were arrested in July last year. They ran a leading art gallery in Tehran, the Iranian capital, and were known to associate with foreign diplomats. Iran has arrested several Iranians holding dual nationality in recent months in a move analysts suggest is intended to intimidate those associated with foreign businesses or who have social connections with foreigners. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran prosecutor-general, said on Sunday that the man and woman had been sentenced because they established "a new cult" and made "alcoholic beverages, encouraged vice through throwing mixed parties and exhibiting and selling obscene images at gallery." (Financial Times)

03-07-2017
Syria Conflict

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria.

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the head of Iran's veterans' affairs office said on Tuesday. "Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums," Mohammad Ali Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency. Shahidi, who is head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, was speaking at a conference on martyrdom culture in Tehran. The figure was more than double the number he gave in November, which referred only to Syria. Iran is, with Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and also organises militias fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq. Shahidi did not provide details on the nationalities of those killed. Iran oversees "volunteer" fighters recruited from among its own nationals as well as Shiite communities in neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan. The families of those killed in battle are given Iranian citizenship under a law passed last May. (AFP)

03-06-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles. One of the tests was successful, destroying a floating barge approximately 155 miles away.

Continuing a pattern of provocative actions, Iran this weekend test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles and sent fast-attack vessels close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. officials confirmed to Fox News. One of Iran's ballistic missile tests were successful, destroying a floating barge approximately 155 miles away, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch told Fox News. The launches of the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missiles were the first tests of the missile in two years, one official said. It was not immediately clear if this was the first successful test at sea -- raising concerns for the U.S. Navy, which operates warships in the area, one of which had an "unsafe and unprofessional" interaction with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. boats on Saturday. The IRGC boats approached to within 600 yard of the tracking ship USNS Invincible and then stopped, officials confirmed to Fox News. The Invincible was accompanied by three ships from the British Royal Navy and all four ships were forced to change course, Reuters reported. The Iranian provocations were partially obscured by a worldwide focus on North Korea's own ballistic missile tests. (Fox News)

03-06-2017
Anti-Americanism

Multiple fast-attack vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, forcing it to change direction.

Multiple fast-attack vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a U.S. official told Reuters on Monday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the boats came within 600 yards (meters) of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. The Invincible and three ships from the British Royal Navy accompanying it had to change course. The official said attempts were made to communicate over radio, but there was no response and the interaction was "unsafe and unprofessional." The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could not immediately be reached for a comment. Years of mutual animosity eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran last year after a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. But serious differences remain over Iran's ballistic missile program and conflicts in Syria and Iraq. While still a presidential candidate in September, Donald Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harassed the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water." (Reuters)

 

03-03-2017
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy surveillance ship has a close encounter with an Iranian navy frigate in the Middle East.

A U.S. Navy surveillance ship had a close encounter with an Iranian navy frigate in the Middle East, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. The frigate came within 150 yards of the USNS Invincible on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, just south of the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The gulf separates Oman from southeastern Iran. The encounter was deemed “unprofessional” but not unsafe because the frigate was on a parallel course with the Invincible at the point of closest approach. The Invincible is outfitted with sonar to track submarines and radar to monitor missile tests. (CBS News)

02-22-2017
Anti-Americanism

The United States should expect a "strong slap in the face" if it underestimates Iran's defensive capabilities, a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said as Tehran concluded war games.

The United States should expect a "strong slap in the face" if it underestimates Iran's defensive capabilities, a commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, as Tehran concluded war games. Since taking office last month, U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to get tough with Iran, warning the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table. "The enemy should not be mistaken in its assessments, and it will receive a strong slap in the face if it does make such a mistake," said General Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Guards’ ground forces, quoted by the Guards' website Sepahnews. On Wednesday, the Revolutionary Guards concluded three days of exercises with rockets, artillery, tanks and helicopters, weeks after Trump warned that he had put Tehran "on notice" over the missile launch. "The message of these exercises ... for world arrogance is not to do anything stupid," said Pakpour, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim. "Everyone could see today what power we have on the ground." The Guards said they test-fired "advanced rockets" and used drones in the three-day exercises which were held in central and eastern Iran. (Reuters)

02-21-2017
Extremism

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls for the "complete liberation" of Palestine from the "tumour" of Israel, renewing his regime's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Tuesday for the "complete liberation" of Palestine from the "tumour" of Israel, renewing his regime's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist. Khamenei was speaking at the sixth international conference in support of Palestinian intifada (uprising), one of a number of showcase events the Tehran authorities organise in solidarity with the Palestinians. "This cancerous tumour, since its start, has grown incrementally and its treatment must be incremental too," Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state television. "Multiple intifadas and continuous resistance have succeeded in achieving very important incremental goals. "It continues to advance towards its other objectives, ultimately the complete liberation of Palestine," he added… Moderate President Hassan Rouhani, and the conservative brothers who head parliament and the judiciary -- Ali Larijani and Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani -- flanked the supreme leader as he spoke. (AFP)

02-20-2017
Military

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises... the launch of the "smart and advanced" rockets came during an annual three-day maneuver which began in Iran's central desert...

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises, Iranian media reported on Monday... the launch of the "smart and advanced" rockets came during an annual three-day maneuver which began on Monday in Iran's central desert... Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Revolutionary Guards' ground forces told the channel that rockets with ranges of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) as well as the Fajr-3, Fajr-4 and Fajr-5 rockets, all believed to have under 100-kilometer range, were all successfully tested in the exercise. (AP)

02-15-2017
Anti-Americanism

A full-length animated film depicting an armed confrontation between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. navy is soon to open in Iranian cinemas, amid rising tensions over President Donald Trump's hardening rhetoric against Tehran.

A full-length animated film depicting an armed confrontation between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. navy is soon to open in Iranian cinemas, amid rising tensions over President Donald Trump's hardening rhetoric against Tehran... The 88-minute animation opens with the U.S. army attacking an Iranian nuclear reactor, and the U.S. navy in the Gulf hitting strategic locations across the county. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a powerful branch of the Iranian military, retaliates with full force, raining ballistic missiles on the U.S. warships. "They all sink and the film ends as the American ships have turned into an aquarium for fishes at the bottom of the sea," Azima said... The main Iranian commander in the film has been intentionally depicted as Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC commander who is overseeing Iran's military operations in Syria and Iraq against Islamist militants. (Reuters)

02-15-2017
Politics

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejects calls for “national reconciliation,” effectively guaranteeing that opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, leaders of the “Green Movement” protests will remain under house arrest.

Three months before presidential elections in Iran, it appears incumbent Hassan Rouhani will not fulfill a key pledge he made before winning office: to free opposition leaders held under house arrest since a 2009 crackdown. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has rejected calls for “national reconciliation,” effectively guaranteeing that opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — leaders of the “Green Movement” protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election — will remain under house arrest. It was the latest setback to reformists who back the moderate Rouhani, who signed the historic nuclear agreement that improved Iran’s relations with the West, but is facing criticism from conservatives as the economy has failed to improve even as many international sanctions were lifted. (Los Angeles Times)

02-10-2017
Anti-Americanism

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied to swear allegiance to the clerical establishment following U.S. President Donald Trump's warning that he had put the Islamic Republic "on notice."

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Friday to swear allegiance to the clerical establishment following U.S. President Donald Trump's warning that he had put the Islamic Republic "on notice", state TV reported... They carried "Death to America" banners and effigies of Trump, while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs. State TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump's picture in a central Tehran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: "Thanks Mr. Trump for showing the real face of America." ... "Some inexperienced figures in the region and America are threatening Iran ... They should know that the language of threats has never worked with Iran," Rouhani told the crowd at Azadi Square. "Our nation is vigilant and will make those threatening Iran regret it ... They should learn to respect Iran and Iranians ... We will strongly confront any war-mongering policies." The rallies were rife with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli sentiment. Some carried pictures of Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May captioned "Death to the Devil Triangle". (Reuters)

02-09-2017
Military

Iran launched another missile from the same launch pad east of Tehran where it conducted a previous ballistic missile test last month.

Iran launched another missile Wednesday from the same launch pad east of Tehran where it conducted a previous ballistic missile test last month, an official told Fox News. The Semnan launch pad was the same as the one where Fox News reported exclusively on Tuesday, satellite photos showed Iran had placed a Safir rocket poised to put a satellite into space before it was taken off the launcher. The reason Iran scrubbed the previous launch is not yet known. The missile used in Wednesday's launch was a short-range Mersad surface-to-air missile, which impacted 35 miles away, according to a U.S. official. This latest test comes less than a week after the U.S. placed new sanctions on Iran. There's been a flurry of activity at the Semnan launch pad, located about 140 miles east of Tehran, in recent weeks, officials have told Fox News. (Fox News)

02-07-2017
Anti-Americanism

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed Donald Trump's warning to Iran to stop its missile tests, saying the new U.S. president had shown the "real face" of American corruption.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed Donald Trump's warning to Iran to stop its missile tests, saying the new U.S. president had shown the "real face" of American corruption. In his first speech since Trump's inauguration, Iran's supreme leader called on Iranians to respond to Trump's "threats" on Feb. 10, the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Trump had tried but failed to frighten Iranians, Khamenei said. "We are thankful to (Trump) for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America," Khamenei told a meeting of military commanders in Tehran, according to his website... In remarks published on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would not agree to renegotiate its nuclear agreement. "I believe Trump will push for renegotiation. But Iran and European countries will not accept that," Mohammad Javad Zarif told Ettelaat newspaper. "We will have difficult days ahead." ... "No enemy can paralyze the Iranian nation," Khamenei said. "(Trump) says 'you should be afraid of me'. No! The Iranian people will respond to his words on Feb. 10 and will show their stance against such threats." (Reuters)

02-05-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran's nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement.

Iran's nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement with world powers after a shipment expected later this week. Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday as saying that Iran will receive a final batch of 149 tons of natural uranium by Tuesday, in addition to 210 tons already delivered since early 2016. (AP)

02-05-2017
Anti-Americanism

A senior member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former IRGC official warns that the slightest aggression by Washington against Iran will be responded by razing to the ground the US military base in Bahrain.

A senior member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps official warned that the slightest aggression by Washington against Iran will be responded by razing to the ground the US military base in Bahrain. "The US army's fifth fleet has occupied a part of Bahrain, and the enemy's farthest military base is in the Indian Ocean but these points are all within the range of Iran's missile systems and they will be razed to the ground if the enemy makes a mistake," Mojtaba Zonour, a former advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader's Representative at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said on Saturday evening. (Fars News Agency)

02-04-2017
Military

Iran held military exercises involving missile and radar systems, just a day after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Tehran for a recent ballistic missile test.

Iran held military exercises involving missile and radar systems Saturday, just a day after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Tehran for a recent ballistic missile test. The morning drills were an illustration of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ rejection of sanctions and preparedness to deal with threats, according to the guards’ official website. “We will do our best to defend the Iranian nation’s security day in and day out, and if the enemy makes any mistake our roaring missiles will land on their heads,” Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, the IRGC aerospace forces’ commander, was quoted as saying. The aerospace unit of the IRGC, an elite military force charged with protecting the country’s Islamic system, carried out the drills in Semnan province, east of Tehran. (Wall Street Journal)

02-04-2017
Human Rights

A scientist who worked for a Belgian university has been sentenced to death in Iran on suspicion of espionage.

A scientist who worked for a Belgian university has been sentenced to death in Iran on suspicion of espionage. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian national and professor of disaster medicine at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), was arrested in April 2016 while visiting family in the country.   He is due to be executed in two weeks, according to VUB. Dr Djalali’s family and colleagues kept news of the arrest quiet in an attempt to avoid worsening the situation but have spoken out following the issuance of the death penalty. The university’s rector, Caroline Pauwels, said: “A scientist performing important humanitarian work, gets sentenced without public trial and is looking at the death penalty. This is an outrageous violation of universal human rights, against which we should react decisively.” ... In custody, Dr Djalali conducted three hunger strikes, according to the petition, which have cost him his health and 20kg in bodyweight. He was forced to sign a confession to an unknown offence, the petition said. (The Independent)

02-04-2017
Extremism

A senior Iranian government official warns Tehran will swiftly retaliate against Israel if the US launched a military strike against Iran.

A senior Iranian government official on Saturday warned Tehran would swiftly retaliate against Israel if the US launched a military strike against Iran. Mojtaba Zonour, a member of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and a former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps official, boasted an Iranian missile could hit Tel Aviv in under seven minutes, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. Zonour said Tehran would strike the Israeli coastal city and “raze to the ground” a US military base in Bahrain “if the enemy makes a mistake.” “And only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv,” he added. (Times of Israel)

02-03-2017
Human Rights

Iranian authorities hanged 87 people in the month of January 2017, including two juvenile prisoners and six prisoners who were executed in public.

According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, the Iranian authorities hanged 87 people in the month of January 2017, including two juvenile prisoners and six prisoners who were executed in public. Out of the 87 executions, only 19 of them were announced by official Iranian sources. Most of the executions which were carried out in Iran in January 2017 were for drug related charges. According to research conducted by Iran Human Rights, executions tend to significantly increase in the months leading to an election in Iran but significantly decrease or stop a couple weeks before the election. Iran Human Rights is deeply concerned that a new wave of executions have started in Iran and worries that the number of executions will increase following the "Fajr Decade" celebrations. (IHR)

02-03-2017
Human Rights

Iran's supreme court has ruled that a woman must be blinded in one eye as punishment for an acid attack that left her victim sightless, using the principle of "eye for an eye" of Islamic Sharia law.

Iran's supreme court has ruled that a woman must be blinded in one eye as punishment for an acid attack that left her victim sightless, using the principle of "eye for an eye" of Islamic Sharia law, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Thursday. Under Iran's Sharia law, imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution, qesas (retribution) is permitted in cases where bodily injuries are inflicted. The convicted attacker, who was not identified, was found guilty of throwing acid in the face of her victim, identified as Sima, two years ago in the city of Dehdasht, Tasnim reported. "The sentence to blindness in one eye, payment of blood money (compensation), and seven years imprisonment have been confirmed by the highest court," Tasnim quoted head of judiciary Majid Karami in the province of Kohgiluyeh as saying. (Reuters)

02-02-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran has tested a cruise missile called "Sumar" that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons in addition to test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile.

Iran has tested a cruise missile called "Sumar" that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons in addition to test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, German newspaper Die Welt reported Thursday, citing unspecified intelligence sources... The newspaper said the Sumar cruise missile was built in Iran and traveled around 600 km in its first known successful test. The missile is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons and may have a range of 2,000 to 3,000 km, the paper said, citing intelligence sources. Cruise missiles are harder to counter than ballistic missiles since they fly at lower altitudes and can evade enemy radar, confounding missile defense missiles and hitting targets deep inside an opponent's territory. But the biggest advantage from Iran's point of view, a security expert told Die Welt, was that cruise missiles are not mentioned in any United Nations resolutions that ban work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. (Reuters)

01-29-2017
Nuclear Program

Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test under Donald Trump's presidency, in yet another apparent violation of a United Nations resolution.

Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test under Donald Trump's presidency, in yet another apparent violation of a United Nations resolution, U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday. The launch occurred Sunday at a well-known test site outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran, Fox News was first to learn. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, officials said. Iran defense minister Brigadier Gen. Hossein Dehqan said in September that Iran would start production of the missile. U.N. resolution 2231 -- put in place days after the Iran nuclear deal was signed -- calls on the Islamic Republic not to conduct such tests... The U.S. intelligence community was able to identify Sunday's launch due to its robust satellite network. The overhead system can detect the heat signature of missile launches and explosions from bombs being dropped around the world... "Iran's missile tests are an unacceptable act of aggression-something we have seen occur time and again for the last 18 months," Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, CEO of the non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran, responded. (Fox News)

01-28-2017
Human Rights

Two juvenile offenders were executed in Kerman (southeastern Iran) and Tabriz (northwestern Iran) prisons. This is in addition to the more than 70 people who have been executed since the beginning of 2017.

Two juvenile offenders were executed in Kerman (southeastern Iran) and Tabriz (northwestern Iran) prisons. This is in addition to the more than 70 people who have been executed since the beginning of 2017. Iran Human Rights calls for international reactions to the wave of executions and in particular juvenile executions in Iran... The Iranian authorities lead the world in the most executions of minors, despite the revisions made to the Islamic Penal Code and that child executions violate Iran's international obligations. (IHR)

01-23-2017
Terrorism

Iran continues to provide the Taliban with missiles to hit Afghan forces, the governor of Helmand province told Afghanistan’s daily newspaper Hayat Allah Hayat.

Iran continues to provide the Taliban with missiles to hit Afghan forces, the governor of Helmand province told Afghanistan’s daily newspaper Hayat Allah Hayat. He stated that ten rockets were fired by the Taliban at government headquarters in Helmand province, which borders Pakistan, and that the inscription on the missiles showed that they were made in Iran. Afghan officials added that Iranian-made missiles launched by the Taliban were found in clashes that took place in the cities of Krmesar and Sunken. The governor believes that the reason behind Tehran’s support of the Taliban is due to the dispute between Iran and Afghanistan regarding the Helman River, which flows into lake Hamon in Baluchestan province in eastern Iran. Tehran believes Afghanistan changed the path of the river causing the lake to dry out. (Al Arabiya)

01-22-2017
Human Rights

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a five-year jail sentence for British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on security charges.

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a five-year jail sentence for British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on security charges, Iran's judiciary spokesman said on Sunday. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family said in September that a Revolutionary Court had handed down the sentence on undisclosed charges. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said the term had been upheld. "The five-year prison verdict against the security defendant Nazanin Zaghari has been finalised," the judiciary's website Mizan quoted Ejei as telling a weekly news conference. Ejei also said Farhad Abd-Saleh was handed a five-year sentence on appeal on security charges, without elaborating. Iranian authorities have given few details about Abd-Saleh, who was named in October along with five others, some of them Iranian dual nationals, who had been sentenced to 10 years in jail for "espionage and collaborating with the American government". (Reuters)

01-19-2017
Politics

"Of nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since the deal was reached in July 2015, 90 have been with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities..."

When world powers agreed in 2015 to lift sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, the deal's supporters in the United States, Europe and Tehran hoped renewed trade and investment could boost Iran's private sector and weaken the state's hold on the economy. But a Reuters review of business accords reached since then shows that the Iranian winners so far are mostly companies owned or controlled by the state, including Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Of nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since the deal was reached in July 2015, 90 have been with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities, the Reuters analysis shows... In Iran, Khamenei and other anti-Western hardliners have repeatedly criticized it because they are concerned it would open the door to Western involvement in Iran's economy... No matter what hardliners have said about the nuclear pact, though, the Reuters analysis shows that businesses which answer ultimately to the Supreme Leader stand to gain from it... The state dominates Iran's economy, so state-controlled firms were always likely to win most business after sanctions were lifted. Iranian officials estimate that the private sector makes up only 20 percent of Iran's economy. In Iran, "you make money if you're close to the centers of power," said Ali Ansari, an Iran scholar at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "The economy hasn't been restructured or reorganized. You're recycling wealth through the elite." ... Counter to the hopes of supporters of the nuclear accord, the initial wave of investment looks likely to further strengthen the power of the state, including Khamenei, whose power far surpasses Rouhani's. (Reuters)

01-18-2017
Human Rights

Iran’s persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice...

Iran’s persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice, said Amnesty International. Hundreds are routinely flogged in Iran each year, sometimes in public. In the most recent flogging case recorded by Amnesty International, a journalist was lashed 40 times in Najaf Abad, Esfahan Province, on 5 January after a court found him guilty of inaccurately reporting the number of motorcycles confiscated by police in the city. “The authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including flogging, amputation and blinding, throughout 2016 highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality. These cruel and inhuman punishments are a shocking assault on human dignity and violate the absolute international prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment,” said Randa Habib, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The latest flogging of a journalist raises alarms that the authorities intend to continue the spree of cruel punishments we have witnessed over the past year into 2017.” (Amnesty International)

01-12-2017
Human Rights

Iranian-born Swedish resident and expert in emergency disaster medicine Ahmadreza Jalali has been held in Evin Prison for almost nine months.

In yet another case of a foreign resident or dual national from a western country grabbed and imprisoned in Iran without access to a lawyer or any other aspect of due process, Iranian-born Swedish resident and expert in emergency disaster medicine Ahmadreza Jalali has been held in Evin Prison for almost nine months. He is now approaching three weeks on hunger strike in protest against his detainment. Jalali was arrested by agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence on April 24, 2016 while visiting the Iranian capital, after being officially invited by Tehran University... “Ahmadreza had always traveled to Iran by invitation of state organizations, including the Red Crescent, and never experienced any problems before,” his wife Vida Mehran-nia told the Campaign, adding that her husband has been charged with “collaborating with enemy states.” ... Mehran-nia told the Campaign that her husband began his hunger strike on December 25, the day his interrogators told him he would receive the maximum punishment... A non-practicing general medicine physician with a post-doctorate degree in emergency and disaster medicine, Jalali lives in Sweden with his wife and two children. (ICHRI)

01-10-2017
Syria Conflict

Photographs released by the Australian government show that light anti-armor weapons seized from a smuggling vessel near Yemen's coast appear to have been manufactured in Iran.

Photographs recently released by the Australian government show that light anti-armor weapons seized from a smuggling vessel near Yemen's coast appear to have been manufactured in Iran, further suggesting that Tehran has had a hand in a high-seas gunrunning operation to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The weapons, a selection of at least nine rocket-propelled grenade launchers, were among thousands of weapons seized by an Australian warship, the Darwin, in February from an Iranian dhow that was sailing under the name Samer. Iran has been repeatedly accused of providing arms helping to fuel one side of the war in Yemen, in which rebels from the country's north, known as the Houthis, ousted the government from the capital, Sana, in 2014... That finding follows a report late last year by Conflict Armament Research, a private arms consultancy, that said the available evidence pointed to an apparent "weapon pipeline, extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles. (New York Times)

01-10-2017
Terrorism

A US court orders the governments of Iran and Syria to pay nearly $200 million to the family of an Israeli infant killed by a Hamas terrorist in a 2014 vehicular attack in Jerusalem.

A US court this week ordered the governments of Iran and Syria to pay nearly $200 million to the family of an Israeli infant killed by a Hamas terrorist in a 2014 vehicular attack in Jerusalem. The US District Court in Washington, DC ruled Tuesday that Tehran and Damascus were liable to provide compensation for damages amounting to $178,500,000 due to their financial backing of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. The Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin represented the family of dual Israeli-American citizen Chaya Zissel Braun, the three-month-old baby who was killed when Palestinian terrorist Abdel Rahman Shaludi rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people at the Ammunition Hill light-rail station in the capital. Israeli officials identified the perpetrator as a convicted terrorist who had previously served a prison sentence and had ties to Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)

01-10-2017
Politics

At the massive funeral for Ayatollah Rafsanjani, crowds challenged the authorities by chanting opposition slogans.

Iranians bade farewell to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Tuesday, with the sprawling state funeral veering slightly off script when groups of mourners started shouting opposition slogans. The authorities were forced to raise the volume on the loudspeakers playing lamentation songs after some in the crowds took up cries of “Oh, Hussein, Mir Hussein,” a reference to a former presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011. Some of the chants were aimed at Russia, Iran’s ally in the Syrian conflict. Video clips on social media showed mourners shouting “Death to Russia” and “the Russian Embassy is the den of espionage,” as they passed the embassy’s complex in the heart of Tehran. People also called for the release of hunger strikers in Iranian prisons. (The New York Times)

01-09-2017
Human Rights

A U.N. expert focusing on human rights in Iran is warning about the health risk of prisoners who have been conducting prolonged hunger strikes to protest against their detention.

A U.N. expert focusing on human rights in Iran is warning about the health risk of prisoners who have been conducting prolonged hunger strikes to protest against their detention. Special rapporteur Asma Jahangir says at least eight prisoners of conscience have been on life-threatening hunger strikes in recent weeks, and called on Iranian leaders to release all people “arbitrarily detained” for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression. Jahangir said in a statement Monday that the eight “are left with no other option but to put their life at risk to contest the legality of their detention.” (AP)

01-09-2017
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels after they closed in at a high rate of speed near the Strait of Hormuz.

A U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels after they closed in at a high rate of speed near the Strait of Hormuz, two U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Monday. The incident, which occurred Sunday and was first reported by Reuters, comes as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office on Jan. 20. In September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water." The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the USS Mahan established radio communication with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats but they did not respond to requests to slow down and continued asking the Mahan questions. The Navy destroyer fired warning flares and a U.S. Navy helicopter also dropped a smoke float before the warning shots were fired. The Iranian vessels came within 900 yards (800 meters) of the Mahan, which was escorting two other U.S. military ships, they said. (Reuters)

01-08-2017
Politics

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died at the age of 82, a big blow to moderates and reformists deprived now of their most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment.

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday at the age of 82, a big blow to moderates and reformists deprived now of their most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment. He had been described as "a pillar of the Islamic revolution". His pragmatic policies – economic liberalisation, better relations with the West and empowering elected bodies - appealed to many Iranians but were despised by hardliners. Few have wielded such influence in modern Iran but since 2009 Rafsanjani and his family faced political isolation over their support for the opposition movement which lost a disputed election that year to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council. He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that selects the supreme leader, Iran's most powerful figure. His absence from that debate, whenever it happens, means the chances of a pragmatist emerging as the next supreme leader are reduced. His death ahead of May's presidential elections is a blow to moderate president Hassan Rouhani who allied himself with Rafsanjani to win the 2013 election and went on to resolve Iran's long standoff with the West on the nuclear programme. (Reuters)

01-08-2017
Syria Conflict

The United Nations chief expressed concern to the Security Council that Iran may have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, according to a confidential report.

The United Nations chief expressed concern to the Security Council that Iran may have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, according to a confidential report, seen by Reuters on Sunday. The second bi-annual report, due to be discussed by the 15-member council on Jan. 18, also cites an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the northern Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen. Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program. But Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement. The report was submitted to the Security Council on Dec. 30 by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before he was succeeded by Antonio Guterres on Jan. 1. It comes just weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to either scrap the nuclear agreement or seek a better deal, takes office. (Reuters)

01-03-2017
Human Rights

The fate of a hunger-striking activist imprisoned in Iran has sparked a rare unauthorized protest near the prison where he's being held.

The fate of a hunger-striking activist imprisoned in Iran has sparked a rare unauthorized protest near the prison where he's being held. Videos posted online show dozens of people taking part in a protest Monday supporting Arash Sadeghi... Sadeghi is serving a 15-year sentence. Amnesty International says he was convicted of "spreading propaganda against the system" and "insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic." Sadeghi began his hunger strike after his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, was arrested in late October. Amnesty says she is serving a six-year prison sentence over an unpublished fictional story found in her home about a woman burning a Quran in anger over another woman being stoned to death for adultery. (AP)

12-29-2016
Syria Conflict

Allegations over Russia and Iran's deepening ties with the Taliban have ignited concerns of a renewed "Great Game" of proxy warfare in Afghanistan hat could undermine US-backed troops and push the country deeper into turmoil.

Allegations over Russia and Iran's deepening ties with the Taliban have ignited concerns of a renewed "Great Game" of proxy warfare in Afghanistan that could undermine US-backed troops and push the country deeper into turmoil. (AFP)

12-27-2016
Politics

Mehdi Karroubi, a leading member of the Iranian opposition who has been under house arrest for almost six years, announced he is quitting his party, Iranian media reported

Mehdi Karroubi, a leading member of the Iranian opposition who has been under house arrest for almost six years, announced he is quitting his party, Iranian media reported on Tuesday. Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi were reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential election, and questioned the shock victory of conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which led to mass protests. Two years later, both leaders ended up under house arrest for their part in the protests, which regime leaders still call "the sedition". "Considering my situation since (2011) and given that I do not know how long this will last, I ask my friends to accept my resignation," Karroubi, 79, wrote in a letter to his party, according to reformist newspaper Shargh... Karroubi said his resignation was aimed at preserving the unity of his party, National Trust, ahead of the presidential election in May -- despite it being banned since his arrest... President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who allied with the reformists to win power in 2013, has failed to secure the release of Karroubi and Mousavi as he promised during his campaign. (AFP)

12-25-2016
Human Rights

Four fingers of the right hand of two prisoners were amputated in an Iranian prison on the Christmas day, December 25.

Four fingers of the right hand of two prisoners were amputated in an Iranian prison on the Christmas day, December 25... According to close sources the two prisoners who were brothers, were sentenced to prison and amputation of four fingers of the right hand because of a robbery they allegedly committed in 2011. (Iran Human Rights (IHR)).

12-19-2016
Terrorism

"Evidence of Russian and Iranian cooperation with the Taliban has been found," Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, chairman of the Afghan Senate says.

The Afghan Senate on Monday said it will investigate growing military ties between Taliban insurgents and Iran and Russia. "Evidence of Russian and Iranian cooperation with the Taliban has been found," Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, chairman of the Afghan Senate said. He added that reports of foreign links to the Taliban are "worrisome." The probe comes after U.S. General John Nicholson, leader of NATO's Resolute Support Afghan mission, said over the weekend that Taliban connections to Russia and Iran are not advancing the cause of stability in the region... Iran is accused by Afghan officials of harboring Taliban fighters from Afghanistan in cross-border areas. “Families of a number of high ranking Taliban leaders reside in Iran,” Asif Nang, the governor of western Farah province, recently told Radio Liberty. “They live in cities such as Yazd, Kerman, and Mashhad, and come back to Afghanistan for subversive activities.” ... Locals say they often see Taliban crossing borders into Iran... “Iran not only has hosted Taliban families, it has supplied the group with weapons that could target and damage tanks and planes,” lawmaker Jumadin Gayanwal from southeastern Paktika province said. (Voice of America)

12-19-2016
Nuclear Program

Two diplomats say the UN nuclear agency has warned Tehran that unless it slows the process it could soon bust through its cap on material that could be used to make a bomb.

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday that Iran is complying with obligations limiting uranium enrichment, but two diplomats say the agency has warned Tehran that unless it slows the process it could soon bust through its cap on material that could be used to make a bomb. A nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers stipulates that Iran can possess only low-enriched uranium — which is not suitable for weapons — and no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) at any time. That’s far less than would be needed to make a nuclear weapon, even if it were further enriched to weapons-grade levels. But even a slight violation of Iran’s enrichment commitments would be politically volatile at a time when the deal is on shaky ground. The incoming U.S. administration wants the agreement renegotiated, and many American lawmakers oppose it. Iran says it won’t renegotiate the deal, and accuses the United States of reneging on commitments to lift sanctions. (AP)

12-17-2016
Extremism

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemns Britain as a "source of evil and misery" for the Middle East after British Prime Minister Theresa May called Iran a regional threat.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned Britain on Saturday as a "source of evil and misery" for the Middle East after British Prime Minister Theresa May called Iran a regional threat. "Shamelessly, the British have recently called ... Iran a threat to the region, but everyone knows that ... it is the British who have always been the source of threats, corruption and misery," the state news agency IRNA quoted Khamenei as telling participants at an Islamic unity conference in Tehran. Khamenei called "policies and the actions of the British in the past two centuries a source of evil and misery for the peoples of the region", IRNA added. May called on Gulf Arab heads of state at a summit last week to work with London "to push back against Iran's aggressive regional actions, whether in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria or in the Gulf itself". (Reuters)

12-16-2016
Human Rights

The appointment of ultra-conservative hardliner Gholam-Hossein Gheibparvar as the new commander of Iran’s Basij, a volunteer militia under the authority of the Revolutionary Guards, has raised fears of increased intimidation and repression.

The appointment of ultra-conservative hardliner Gholam-Hossein Gheibparvar as the new commander of Iran’s Basij, a volunteer militia under the authority of the Revolutionary Guards, has raised fears of increased intimidation and repression of anyone deemed guilty of political dissent. Brigadier General Gheibparvar believes, in contrast to the Constitution, that the Revolutionary Guards holds the authority to interfere in all aspects of life in the Islamic Republic to protect the revolution. His track record of iron-fist policies significantly contributed to his rise in Iran’s military apparatus. His predecessor, Mohammad Reza Naghdi—who was put on the U.S. sanctions list in 2011 for “being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election”—was similarly appointed as Basij commander in 2009 because of his reputation as the ruthless head of Tehran’ police intelligence unit in the 1990s. (International Campaign of Human Rights in Iran)

12-16-2016
Syria Conflict

The leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launch provocative statements against the Gulf states threatening to intervene in Bahrain and Yemen.

The leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched provocative statements against the Gulf states threatening to intervene in Bahrain and Yemen. The comments were reported by Iranian media after what they described as a “victory in Aleppo,” upon the massacres, starvation and displacement against civilians. Aleppo was considered as one of the strongholds of the opposition; however, the Syrian regime took a hold of it with the help and support of Iranian and Russian military troops. In this context, the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami told the official Iranian news agency Islamic Republic News Agency that “The victory in Aleppo will pave the way for liberating Bahrain,” pointing out that Iran has an expansion project that will extend to Bahrain, Yemen and Mosul after the fall of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Salami said that “the people of Bahrain will achieve their wishes, the Yemeni people will be delighted, and the residents of Mosul will taste victory, these are all divine promises,” as he put it. He also pointed out that Iran is still providing unlimited support for the Houthi group, highlighting that Iranian missile could destroy the enemy targets in any area. (Al Arabiya)

12-15-2016
Human Rights

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reports that the country's authorities have detained 120 people in a private party in a coffee shop in Tehran.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency is reporting that the country's authorities have detained 120 people in a private party in a coffee shop in Tehran. The Wednesday report quotes Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, as saying "15 bottles of alcohol were found and 15 people were drunk and the coffee shop was closed." ... Dolatabadi said the 120 people were arrested on Tuesday night for attending a mixed-gender party, and that authorities also arrested two "underground singers." (AP)

12-15-2016
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on all Muslims to unite against the "great conspiracy" of the enemies to destroy Islamic communities through sectarian wars.

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on all Muslims to unite against the "great conspiracy" of the enemies to destroy Islamic communities through sectarian wars. Rouhani addressed scores of thinkers from around the world at an international Islamic unity conference in Tehran on Thursday, saying that the ongoing bloodletting in Muslim countries is being orchestrated by major powers and the Zionists... "Big powers set up streams of blood in the streets of Mosul and destroyed this beautiful city. They took away sleep from Muslims and enslaved Muslim and Christian girls who were under the banner of a single government," he said... "We must take pride in a Jihad which is in line with the judgment of the Holy Qur'an. We know of no Jihad other than the one standing against tyranny and defending the dignity of Islam and Muslims," he added. Rouhani held hope that Muslims would unite by clinging to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and identify the "Zionist regime" of Israel as their "biggest enemy", when Yemen would achieve liberation and those who are aiding terrorists with money and arms would face the Islamic Ummah with shame. (Press TV)
12-14-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran has played a pivotal role in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's campaign to crush rebel resistance in Aleppo and is now close to establishing a "Shi'ite crescent" of regional influence stretching from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean Sea.

Iran has played a pivotal role in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's campaign to crush rebel resistance in Aleppo and is now close to establishing a "Shi'ite crescent" of regional influence stretching from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean Sea. Revolutionary Guards commanders and senior clerics in Tehran have this week praised Iran's defeat of "Wahhabi terrorists" in Syria and the country they characterize as the rebels' patron, Sunni Muslim regional rival Saudi Arabia... For the first time, Tehran could exert authority over a vast sweep of the Middle East extending through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon - an arc of influence that Sunni Arab powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, have been warning about for years... Establishing such a "Shi'ite crescent" would give Tehran immense political clout in the region as it vies with arch-rival Riyadh and allow it to protect Shi'ite communities in these countries. It would also present a military threat to Israel, through Syria and Lebanon, which Iranian officials regard as a deterrent to any Israeli aggression towards Iran. (Reuters)

12-13-2016
Extremism

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warns of Israel's misusing the insecurities in the region, and said the Palestinians have no way out, but resistance and jihad against Tel Aviv.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned of Israel's misusing the insecurities in the region, and said the Palestinians have no way out, but resistance and jihad against Tel Aviv. "Today, the world public opinion is faced with this strong argument that the Zionist regime has never been after peace, and this argument and reasoning should be used to show that there is no way, but jihad and resistance for the Palestinians against the usurper regime," President Rouhani said in a meeting with Leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah in Tehran on Tuesday. Warning that the Zionist regime has in the past two decades misused the security problems in the region, he said that the regime and its supporters have paved the ground for terrorists' operation in the regional states, specially Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even North Africa to make them busy with internal security problems and forget the Palestinian issue. Abdullah, for his part, appreciated Iran's support for the Palestinian people and resistance groups, and said if Iran didn’t help, the Palestinians wouldn’t be able to maintain their position and inform the world of their ideas and causes. (Fars News Agency)

12-13-2016
Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani orders the development of a nuclear-propulsion system for ships, describing the move as a response to the recent extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the development of a nuclear-propulsion system for ships, describing the move as a response to the recent extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress. He also requested a study of fuel production for the propulsion system and set a three-month deadline for a progress report on both steps, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Tuesday. The White House said the announcement didn’t breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal last year with the U.S. and five other powers. But Mr. Rouhani’s order nevertheless inserts new contention into a relationship that’s expected to strain further when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January. It is unclear whether the move was political posturing aimed mainly at a domestic audience upset at the extension of sanctions or if Iran will follow through on the development of nuclear-powered ships... Many nuclear-powered vessels are fueled with uranium enriched above 90%... The use of any grade of uranium exceeding 3.67% enrichment would violate the nuclear agreement. (Wall Street Journal)

12-05-2016
Syria Conflict

Recent cyberattacks have frozen an unspecified number of computers at two government agencies in Saudi Arabia, and security experts say it is likely that Iran is behind the digital mayhem.

Recent cyberattacks have frozen an unspecified number of computers at two government agencies in Saudi Arabia, and security experts say it is likely that Iran is behind the digital mayhem. The attacks are believed to have affected thousands of computers at the Saudi civil aviation and transportation agencies, harkening back to a devastating Iranian cyberattack in 2012 that nearly crippled the Saudi state oil company, Aramco... “Since the (U.S.) election especially, there’s been a pretty drastic increase in the amount of targeting of Saudi and Israeli institutions by hacking groups that we absolutely know are based out of Iran,” said Collin Anderson, an independent researcher currently writing a report on Iranian cyber warfare for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Anderson said “reasonable degrees of evidence” link the hacking to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful security and military organization. (McClatchy)

12-05-2016
Human Rights

Twelve people involved in the fashion industry in Iran are reported to have been jailed for "spreading prostitution" via images posted online.

Twelve people involved in the fashion industry in Iran are reported to have been jailed for "spreading prostitution" via images posted online. The eight women and four men were handed sentences of between five months and six years by a court in Shiraz, a lawyer told the Ilna news agency. They were also banned from working in fashion and travelling abroad for two years afterwards, Mahmoud Taravat said... The 12 were convicted of charges including spreading prostitution and promoting corruption via the publication of obscene images online, inciting Muslims to corrupt themselves through putting on fashion shows, and spreading a "Western-style culture of nudity". (BBC News)

12-05-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says, "America... is our enemy, we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can..."

"Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Congress's decision to renew US sanctions for 10 years would elicit a "harsh reaction" and proved the United States was still an enemy. "America... is our enemy, we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can," Rouhani said in a speech to students at Tehran University. The Iran Sanctions Act passed the US Senate 99-0 last week, after easily clearing the House of Representatives in November... "If this is implemented... it would be a blatant and clear breach of the JCPOA (nuclear agreement) and would face a very harsh reaction from us," Rouhani said. The actual language in the agreement could be interpreted in different ways. It calls on the US to "cease the application of... all nuclear-related sanctions". It does not specify whether Washington can keep them in reserve for possible use in the future. At a press conference on Tuesday, conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani said parts of the deal were "rushed". "Some of the sections of the JCPOA should have been written with more precision to stop differing interpretations," Larijani said. "I believe Iran should file a complaint in regard of the Americans' breach of the JCPOA," he added." (AFP)

12-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

An American-Iranian dual national and his wife have been in detention in Iran without charge or access to lawyers since their arrest by elite Revolutionary Guards in July.

"An American-Iranian dual national and his wife have been in detention in Iran without charge or access to lawyers since their arrest by elite Revolutionary Guards in July, a New York-based rights group said on Friday. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) said Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Niasari, who run an art gallery in Tehran, were being held in Tehran's Evin Prison. The Islamic Republic does not recognise dual nationality, a position that prevents Western embassy officials from visiting such detainees. "Yet another case of a dual national snatched and held without charge or access to a lawyer represents an alarming continuation of a judicial system run by intelligence agencies with no respect for the law and no accountability," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the human rights group. The statement said families of the arrested couple decided not to publicize their cases, hoping it would be resolved. "Then when the family started receiving anonymous phone threats and demands for money, they decided to go public and write a letter to Iran's supreme leader," the statement said." (Reuters)

12-01-2016
Terrorism

Two Iranian men were charged in a Kenyan court with collecting information to facilitate a terrorist act after they were allegedly found with video footage of the Israeli embassy.

"Two Iranian men were charged Thursday in a Kenyan court with collecting information to facilitate a terrorist act after they were allegedly found with video footage of the Israeli embassy. Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee were arrested Tuesday in an Iranian diplomatic car on Bishops Road in Nairobi, after they had come from visiting Kamiti Prison where they saw two other Iranians who have been jailed for 15 years on terrorism charges, said prosecutor Duncan Ondimu. The suspects were taking the pictures using a mobile phone, Ondimu said. A Kenyan driver, Moses Keyah Mmboga, who was chauffeuring the vehicle belonging to the Iranian embassy, has been charged with the suspects and also faces a separate charge of "abetting terrorism". Iranian agents are suspected in attacks or thwarted attacks around the globe in recent years, including in Azerbaijan, Thailand and India. Most of the plots had Israeli targets. In June 2013 a Kenyan court convicted two Iranian nationals of being Quds agents plotting attacks against Western targets in Kenya and they were sentenced to life in prison." (AP)

12-01-2016
Human Rights

The dual national translator for a prestigious film festival was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and her passport confiscated as she was leaving the country together with her colleague.

The dual national translator for a prestigious film festival was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and her passport confiscated as she was leaving the country together with her colleague on November 27. “Nooshafarin Dastoori has been summoned to the Intelligence Ministry to explain some things,” an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, although it was not clear what the ministry was seeking. “Everything seemed to be going well until the last airport checkpoint, when Ms. Dastoori was prevented from boarding the plain and her passport was taken away. I know that she was questioned at the security office in the airport but she was not given a reason why she was not allowed to travel abroad. They only told her that she had to stay in Iran for the time being and answer a few questions,” said the source. Dastoori, a German-Iranian national, is an assistant to Anke Leweke, the Iran Consultant for the Berlin Film Festival. They were in Tehran to select films, which were confiscated at the airport, according to the source. (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

11-30-2016
Syria Conflict

Weapon shipments intercepted in the Arabian sea by Australian, French and U.S. warships contained large quantities of Russian and Iranian weapons, some of which had markings similar to munitions recovered from Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Weapon shipments intercepted in the Arabian sea by Australian, French and U.S. warships this year contained large quantities of Russian and Iranian weapons, some of which had markings similar to munitions recovered from Houthi fighters in Yemen, according to a new report released by an independent research group Wednesday. In October, U.S. officials claimed to have captured five shipments of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen. The report, published by Conflict Armament Research, or CAR, draws on markings found on rifles, rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and munitions, providing some of the more concrete evidence to date of Iran’s logistical support to Houthis fighting in Yemen’s nearly two-year-old civil war... “CAR’s analysis of the seized materiel … suggests the existence of a weapon pipeline extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles,” the report says.(Washington Post)

11-29-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran will increase its uranium enrichment capacity if the US renews sanctions against the Islamic Republic and violates the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian lawmaker says.

"Iran will increase its uranium enrichment capacity if the US renews sanctions against the Islamic Republic and violates the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian lawmaker says. “In case of the extension of sanctions [against Iran] and violation of the JCPOA (the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we will raise uranium production and enrichment to 190,000 SWU (separative work units),” the chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on Tuesday. He added that the “retaliatory measure” will be carried out in line with legislation passed by the Iranian Parliament... "'Initiating sanctions' is no different from 'renewing them after their expiration,' and the latter is also [an instance of imposing] sanctions and violation of the previous commitments by the opposite side," Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday." (Press TV)

11-27-2016
Human Rights

The son of one of Iran's founding revolutionaries was sentenced to several years in jail after releasing a decades-old tape in which his father denounced the mass execution of prisoners.

The son of one of Iran's founding revolutionaries was sentenced to several years in jail Sunday after releasing a decades-old tape in which his father denounced the mass execution of prisoners, local media reported. Ahmad Montazeri, 60, was convicted by a clerical court in the holy city of Qom on charges of "acting against the national security" and "releasing a classified audio file," the ISNA news agency reported. He received a further year for "propaganda against the system," ISNA said. The court said he would only serve six years in view of his lack of previous convictions, his age, and "reverence" for a brother he lost in an insurgent attack. Montazeri is the son of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who for decades was right-hand man to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of Iran's Islamic revolution. The elder Montazeri was one of the few Iranian leaders to voice opposition in 1988 when Khomeini ordered the execution of thousands of political dissidents held in the country's jails. (AFP)

11-26-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces says that Tehran may be interested in setting up naval bases in both Syria and Yemen, the semi-official Tasnim reported.

Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces said Saturday that Tehran may be interested in setting up naval bases in both Syria and Yemen, the semi-official Tasnim reported. The report by Tasnim, close to military, quoted Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri as saying, "Maybe, at some point we will need bases on the shores of Yemen and Syria." He said "Having naval bases in remote distances is not less than nuclear power. It is ten times more important and creates deterrence." Gen. Bagheri added that setting up naval platforms off the shores of those countries requires "infrastructures there first." He said Iran is also able to set up permanent platforms for military purposes in the Persian Gulf and roving ones in other places. (AP)

11-26-2016
Anti-Americanism

A small Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a U.S. military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.

A small Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a U.S. military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, two U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Monday, an action they described as "unsafe and unprofessional." The incident is the latest in a series of similar actions by Iranian vessels this year, but the first reported since Republican Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8. During his campaign, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessel that harassed the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water," if he was elected. Trump is due to take office on Jan. 20... The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident took place when a Navy MH-60 helicopter flew within half a mile (0.8 km) of two Iranian vessels in international waters. One of the vessels pointed a weapon at the helicopter, the U.S. officials said. "The behavior by our standards is provocative and could be seen as an escalation," the officials said. At no point did the crew of the helicopter feel threatened, they added. (Reuters)

11-24-2016
Human Rights

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi has begun serving a year-long prison sentence handed down over footage authorities deemed insulting.

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi has begun serving a year-long prison sentence handed down over footage authorities deemed insulting, his production company confirmed on Thursday. The charges against the 30-year-old stemmed from a film he directed called "Writing on the City" that focuses on political graffiti in Iran from the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution to the contested 2009 election. He was initially sentenced to six years behind bars after being found guilty of "insulting sanctities" in October 2015. In February, an appeals court reduced the sentence to one year but kept the requirement that Karimi endure 223 lashes as stipulated in his original sentence. Speaking to The Associated Press earlier this week, Karimi said he hopes to use the time behind bars to complete the script for his next film. "Be sure, I'm strong. Inside, and mentally, I'm ready," he said. (AP)

11-22-2016
Syria Conflict

More than 1,000 soldiers deployed by Iran to Syria to back the government side in its civil war have been killed, an Iranian official says, underlining Tehran's increasing presence on front lines of the conflict.

More than 1,000 soldiers deployed by Iran to Syria to back the government side in its civil war have been killed, an Iranian official said, underlining Tehran's increasing presence on front lines of the conflict. It was a major increase in the reported death toll from just four months ago, when the Islamic Republic announced that 400 of its soldiers had died on Syria's battlefields... Although many of the soldiers the Shi'ite Muslim Iran sends are its own nationals, it is casting its recruitment net wide, training and deploying Shi'ites from neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. Half of the death toll reported in August were Afghan citizens. "Now the number of Iran's martyrs as defenders of shrine has exceeded 1,000," Mohammadali Shahidi Mahallati, head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs, which offers financial support to the relatives of those killed fighting for Iran, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. (Reuters)

11-22-2016
Terrorism

Iran is smuggling weapons and ammunition to Hezbollah through commercial flights from the Islamic Republic to Lebanon, according to intelligence information revealed by Israel's UN ambassador to the Security Council.

Iran is smuggling weapons and ammunition to Hezbollah through commercial flights from the Islamic Republic to Lebanon, according to intelligence information revealed by Israel's UN ambassador to the Security Council, which was cleared for publication on Tuesday. UN Ambassador Danny Danon sent an urgent letter to the Security Council members in which he revealed the smuggling route from Iran's Revolutionary Guards to Hezbollah: "The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights." Danon added that "these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah." The UN envoy wrote that "Iran continues to violate Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 1701 and 2231." Iran arms terrorist organizations in the Middle East and works to undermine stability in the entire region, he added. (The Jerusalem Post)

11-21-2016
Human Rights

A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran is at breaking point after going on a five-day hunger strike in protest against her incarceration.

A British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Iran is at breaking point after going on a five-day hunger strike in protest against her incarceration, according to her husband. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation, is being held at Tehran's Evin prison. In September she was found guilty of offences relating to national security, but the precise reason for her arrest has not been clarified... "She is at breaking point," her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, told the Guardian. "When [Iranian-Canadian professor] Homa Hoodfar was released [in September], she was really hopeful that she would be next and she got moved into a big room. She was very excited. Then she got moved back to a small room, which sent her down to a sense that nothing is going to happen, and that's when she started feeling suicidal." Ratcliffe said he last spoke to his wife a week ago but only found out about the hunger strike late last week when her family were summoned to the prison. (The Guardian)

11-21-2016
Extremism

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlines that the Palestinian territories will be freed from Israel's occupation in the next 10 years.

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlined that the Palestinian territories will be freed from Israel's occupation in the next 10 years. Addressing elite students in Alborz province near Tehran on Monday, Naqdi expressed the hope that the notions, thoughts and ideology that led to Iran's Islamic Revolution would help Palestinians get rid of Israel in the next 10 years. Elaborating on his reasons for predicting the liberation of Palestine and annihilation of Israel by 2025, he said that the Islamic Revolution helped Iran get rid of the US over 35 years ago, rescued the country from Saddam Hussein's aggression and helped the Lebanese to get rid of the Americans. "Considering these developments, liberation of Palestine by the Islamic Revolution is not unlikely at all," Naqdi said. In relevant remarks earlier this month, General Naqdi underlined that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process. (Fars News Agency)

11-17-2016
Nuclear Program

The head of the UN atomic watchdog chided Iran after a second minor breach this year by Tehran of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

"The head of the UN atomic watchdog chided Iran on Thursday after a second minor breach this year by Tehran of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency last week showed that Iran's stock of so-called heavy water had inched above the level agreed under the landmark accord. Heavy water, a modified form of normal water, is used in certain types of nuclear reactors. "Iran has since made preparations to transfer a quantity of heavy water out of the country," which will bring it below the ceiling, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told the agency's board. "It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation" of the deal, he said in Vienna." (AFP)

11-16-2016
Human Rights

Videos showing apparently coerced confessions of prisoners — interwoven with ominous-sounding music and clips of unrelated assaults by militants of the Islamic State — have been shown on Iranian state television in the months since the mass executions.

"When Iran conducted a mass hanging in August of Sunni prisoners accused of attacks in its restive western Kurdish region, the executions were widely criticized as an egregious human rights violation. But death-penalty opponents also were appalled at what came next. Videos that showed apparently coerced confessions of the prisoners — interwoven with ominous-sounding music and clips of unrelated assaults by militants of the Islamic State — have been shown on Iranian state television in the months since the executions. Produced and disseminated by official media outlets, the videos contain no apologies for the mass hangings. They apparently are meant to exploit fears among the country’s majority Shiite population about the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group ensconced in Syria and Iraq that shares antipathy for both Iran and the West. Human rights groups say the hangings in Iran on Aug. 2 put 20 to 25 prisoners to death, one of the largest mass executions ever carried out in that country. In a report about the videos issued Wednesday, titled “Broadcasting Injustice, Boasting of Mass Killing,” the rights group Amnesty International accused Iran of having used stage-managed confessions, falsehoods and sensationalist screen titles like “In the Devil’s Hands” and “In the Depth of Darkness” to justify the mass hangings to a domestic audience." (The New York Times)

11-15-2016
Human Rights

Dozens of businesses in Iran owned by members of the Baha’i faith have been indefinitely shut down by the authorities after some owners closed their establishments to honor the birthdays of two of the faith’s holiest figures.

Dozens of businesses in Iran owned by members of the Baha’i faith have been indefinitely shut down by the authorities after some owners closed their establishments to honor the birthdays of two of the faith’s holiest figures... Between November 6-10, 2016 the police closed down several Baha’i shops in Karaj, the Campaign has learned. The Baha’i World News Service also reported that 104 Baha’is shops in the cities of Noshahr, Shahsavar, Tonekabon, Amol, Bahmanir, Kerman, Bandar Abbas, and Sari “were sealed by Iranian authorities after they were temporarily closed to observe Baha’i holy days on 1 and 2 November.”  According to the Baha’i calendar, November 1 is the birthday of the Bab, the faith’s prophet, and November 2 is the birthday of Bahá’u’lláh, the faith’s founder. (International Campaign for HUman Rights in Iran)

11-15-2016
Human Rights

A U.N. committee urges Iran to cease enforced disappearances and the widespread use of arbitrary detention and has expressed serious concern about severe limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

A U.N. committee on Tuesday urged Iran to cease enforced disappearances and the widespread use of arbitrary detention and has expressed serious concern about severe limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. The General Assembly's human rights committee approved the measure by a vote of 85 in favor, 35 against and 63 countries abstaining. The assembly is virtually certain to adopt the resolution when it's put to a vote next month. The measure welcomed pledges by Iran's president to eliminate discrimination against women and ethnic minorities as well as granting greater space for freedom of expression. But it also expressed concern over the "alarmingly high frequency" of the death penalty and urged Iran to eliminate laws and practices that constitute human rights violations against women and girls. Iran's Foreign Ministry swiftly rejected the vote. (AP)

11-15-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran's missile programme is "non-negotiable" and tests will continue, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi says, following criticism from European Union diplomats.

Iran's missile programme is "non-negotiable" and tests will continue, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Tuesday, following criticism from European Union diplomats. "Iran's defence capabilities cannot be compromised and are under no circumstance negotiable," he told state television IRIB. "Missile tests are conducted within the framework of Iran's defence policies." A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday urged Tehran to refrain from ballistic missile testing. Iran's military has carried out a number of missile tests in recent months, which the United States and European governments have said are a breach of its commitments under last year's nuclear deal. (AFP)

11-14-2016
Human Rights

A 28-year-old Iranian woman received 80 lashes after an Iranian court found her guilty of the offences more than two years after she attended a party in the second biggest city of Mashhad.

A WOMAN has laid bare the brutal punishment she reportedly received at the hands of authorities after she was caught attending a party with boys and drinking alcohol. The 28-year-old Iranian woman received 80 lashes after an Iranian court found her guilty of the offences more than two years after she attended a party in the second biggest city of Mashhad. Masih Alinejad, a former journalist who administers the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom, posted an interview with the unnamed woman who suffered shocking injuries after her ordeal. Posting under the #NoToLashes, Alinejad’s post goes into detail how the woman was initially arrested for consuming alcohol at a party, something which is strictly forbidden in Iran. (News.com.au)

11-14-2016
Syria Conflict

Eleven Middle East and North African countries accused Iran of sponsoring "terrorism" and constantly interfering in the internal affairs of Arab nations, sparking tension and instability in the region.

Eleven Middle East and North African countries accused Iran of sponsoring "terrorism" and constantly interfering in the internal affairs of Arab nations, sparking tension and instability in the region. In a letter to the U.N. General Assembly circulated Monday, the 11 countries cited Iran's support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Shiite Hezbollah group in Lebanon which has sent fighters to support the Syrian government. They also accused Iran of supporting "terrorist groups and cells" in Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere. The Arab nations reiterated a statement by Bahrain's foreign minister in September that the only way forward is for Iran "to comprehensively change its foreign policies and end hostilities." The letter, organized by the United Arab Emirates, was signed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Yemen. The 11 countries condemned Iran for sponsoring "terrorism" in the region, particularly in Yemen where they said Tehran is supporting the Houthis financially and militarily by training their fighters and illegally sending them weapons and ammunition. (AP)

11-14-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani blasts the US, Israel and certain regional states for creating and assisting the terrorist groups in the region.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani blasted the US, Israel and certain regional states for creating and assisting the terrorist groups in the region. "Today, there is precise intelligence showing that the US and the Zionist regime are assisting with the creation and supporting the terrorist stream in the region, and the governments of certain regional states are also suffering this plague," Larijani said in Tehran on Monday, addressing a ceremony to commemorate the martyrdom of Mohsen Khazaei, reporter of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, who was killed in Aleppo on Saturday. The Iranian speaker said that turmoil and spread of terrorism in the region creates the best conditions for the Zionist regime to survive. (Fars News Agency)

11-13-2016
Syria Conflict

Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, the advisor to the Iranian foreign affairs minister, said Iranian missiles are not only manufactured in Syria but in other countries in the region as well.

Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, the advisor to the Iranian foreign affairs minister, said Iranian missiles are not only manufactured in Syria but in other countries in the region as well. He said Iran expanded its missiles’ production outside its borders due to the “increasing Israeli threats in the region.” Although he did not reveal much about the production Iranian missiles, he said Iraq is one of the countries where ballistic missiles are produced. His statements come two days after the Iranian chief of staff said that manufacturing ballistic missiles has been carried out in Aleppo during the past years. (Al Arabiya)

11-13-2016
Anti-Americanism

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlines that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process.

Commander of Iran's Basij (Volunteer Force) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi underlined that the US will collapse in less than 20 years, adding that President-elect Donald Trump will speed up the process. "According to the analysis made by the behind-the-stage and shadow decision-makers of the establishment in the US, the United States will collapse in 2035 and I think that it is an optimistic analysis as this will take place much earlier," Naqdi told FNA on Sunday. He referred to the election of Trump as the new US president, and said, "The person that has ascended to power displays the reality of the US." Noting that Barack Obama showed the face of the US in disguise, Naqdi said that Trump is the real face of the US and he may accelerate collapse of the US. (Fars News Agency)

11-11-2016
Terrorism

Iran’s top general says the Islamic Republic set up a missile factory in Syria which transferred supplies to Hezbollah to use in the 2006 war against Israel.

Iran’s top general said the Islamic Republic set up a missile factory in Syria which transferred supplies to Hezbollah to use in the 2006 war against Israel. “Iran established the missile industry for Syria in Aleppo in the past years and produced missiles and they were used during the 33-day war against Israel,” Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency quoted General Mohammad Hossein Bagher as saying. (Times of Israel)

11-11-2016
Human Rights

23 people have been executed during the last six days in Iran... Six prisoners were executed in Iran yesterday.

23 people have been executed during the last six days in Iran... Six prisoners were executed in Iran yesterday. One prisoner was hanged publicly in the village of Chelmeh near the city of Mashhad (northeastern Iran) reported the Iranian media. (Iran Human Rights)

11-10-2016
Military

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri says Iran has gained such great missile capabilities that enemies would not begin to contemplate attacking the country.

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said Iran has gained such great missile capabilities that enemies would not begin to contemplate attacking the country. “Our missile power has reached a point that the enemies cannot decide to invade,” the senior officer said at a cultural ceremony on Thursday, held in commemoration of Brigadier General Hassan Tehrani-Moqaddam, known as the father of Iran's missile program, who was martyred in 2011. Highlighting Iran’s success to acquire the technical expertise to produce missiles with solid fuel, Major General Baqeri said Iran’s progress in the missile industry was so rapid that none of the modern anti-missile systems could defeat the Iranian projectiles in terms of speed, power and precision. He also warned the “insane” Zionist regime of Israel that a war against the Islamic Republic of Iran will not have an end, until the enemies concede defeat in a humiliated manner. The top commander further pointed to Iran’s assistance to its allies in the region, saying Syria, which once refused to supply more missiles to Iran during the Iraqi imposed war in the 1980s, enjoyed the missile industries that Iran set up in the city of Aleppo later. The missiles manufactured in Aleppo were used against the Tel Aviv regime in the 33-day war, the general added, referring to an Israeli war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006. (Tasnim News Agency)

11-09-2016
Nuclear Program

The United Nations agency monitoring the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers says that Iran is in violation of the deal meant to curb its ability to make atomic arms by storing marginally more heavy water than the agreement allows.

The United Nations agency monitoring the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers said Wednesday that Iran is in violation of the deal meant to curb its ability to make atomic arms by storing marginally more heavy water than the agreement allows. Heavy water is a concern because it is used to cool reactors that can produce substantial amounts of plutonium. That, in turn, can be applied to making the fissile core of nuclear warheads. The U.N's International Atomic Energy Agency said in a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press that Iran had exceeded the heavy water allotment of 130 metric tons (143.3 tons) only slightly — by 100 kilograms (220 pounds.) The report also noted that Iran had served notice it would resolve the issue by exporting 5 metric tons, substantially over the excess amount. Wednesday's report said the agency verified the overhang on Tuesday, just days after IAEA chief Yukiya Amano "expressed concerns" to top Iranian officials. A senior diplomat familiar with the issue said the Iranians had told the IAEA that the shipment would be leaving their country within the next few days... Still, with both sides closely watching for violations, the breach was sensitive even beyond the technical uses of heavy water, especially since it was the second such breach since implementation of the deal curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. (AP)

11-07-2016
Anti-Americanism

The detention in Iran of Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka is a “U.S. Iranian problem,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says during an official visit to Lebanon.

The detention in Iran of Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka is a “U.S. Iranian problem,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during an official visit to Lebanon on Monday, as the man's family urged that he be repatriated to Lebanon. “What happened with Mr. Zakka is not a problem between Iran and Lebanon, seeing as the problem was the violation of the applicable laws in Iran by a foreigner, and the problem is actually between the United States and Iran,” Zarif said in response to a reporter's question. After being detained for around a year without trial over spying allegations, Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine on September 20. “The sentence that was given to Nizar Zakka more than a month ago is an unjust ruling and it should not apply to a Lebanese citizen,” Zakka's family said in a statement it issued on the occasion's of Zarif's visit earlier in the day. (Naharnet)

11-04-2016
Anti-Americanism

Thousands of Iranians have burned the American flag and chanted anti-U.S. slogans as they marked the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students 37 years ago.

Thousands of Iranians have burned the American flag and chanted anti-U.S. slogans as they marked the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students 37 years ago. Such protests take place every year outside the compound that once housed the embassy on the anniversary of the 1979 takeover that followed the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Iranians at the rally outside the former embassy building on Thursday chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" and burned the U.S. and Israeli flags. On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days after Washington refused to hand over Iran's toppled shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, for trial in Iran. (AP)

11-03-2016
Nuclear Program

Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami warns that if the US government reneges on the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as JCPOA, Iran will “send the deal to Museum”.

Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami warned that if the US government reneges on the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as JCPOA, Iran will “send the deal to Museum”. “The Americans should be aware that if they fail to meet their obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), we will send the deal to Museum,” Brigadier General Salami said during a massive demonstration held in Tehran on Thursday to mark the “National Day of Fight against Global Arrogance”. He further emphasized that if Washington reneges on the agreement, the two sides will “go back to square one" and the Islamic Republic will activate its decommissioned centrifuges. In that case, the country not only will refuse to stop its nuclear program but also develop the activities, the commander went on to say. (Tasnim)

11-02-2016
Terrorism

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s elite military force, is sending assets to infiltrate the United States and Europe at the direction of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s elite military force, is sending assets to infiltrate the United States and Europe at the direction of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to recent Farsi-language comments from an Iranian military leader. The IRGC “will be in the U.S. and Europe very soon,” according to the Iranian military commander, who said that these forces would operate with the goal of bolstering Iran’s hardline regime and thwarting potential plots against the Islamic Republic. “The whole world should know that the IRGC will be in the U.S. and Europe very soon,” Salar Abnoush, deputy coordinator of Iran’s Khatam-al-Anbia Garrison, an IRGC command front, was quoted as saying in an Iranian state-controlled publication closely tied to the IRGC... “The IRGC is [the] strong guardian of the Islamic Republic,” Abnoush was quoted as saying. “The Fedayeen of Velayat [fighting force] are under the order of Iran’s Supreme leader. Defending and protecting the Velayat [the Supreme Leader] has no border and limit.” (Washington Free Beacon)

11-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

Massoumeh Ebtekar Iran's vice-president celebrates the 444-day siege of the U.S. Embassy and says, "she is still proud of their work in releasing documents found in the CIA's files."

The Iranian students who stormed the US embassy in 1979 and released thousands of secret CIA documents were the WikiLeaks of their time, their former lead spokesperson has told AFP. Every year on November 3-4, Iran celebrates the 444-day siege of the embassy when more than 50 diplomats, staff and spies were taken hostage by Islamist students demanding the extradition of the shah, who had fled to America after being deposed a few months earlier in the Islamic revolution. Massoumeh Ebtekar is now Iran's vice-president and one of its most recognisable politicians, feted globally for her work as head of the environment department. But back then, she was a 20-year-old medical student -- nicknamed "Mary" by the international press -- who became the face of the hostage crisis thanks to her fluent English. She now regrets the diplomatic isolation that followed the embassy siege, but she is still proud of their work in releasing documents found in the CIA's files -- some painstakingly reassembled after embassy staff frantically shredded as many as possible when the students stormed the building. "Revealing these documents was very similar to what WikiLeaks is doing these days. It was the WikiLeaks of those ages," Ebtekar told AFP. (AFP)

11-02-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Americans as “liars, untrustworthy, deceitful and backstabbers” while saying he still opposed any direct negotiations with the U.S. following the nuclear deal.

It seems everyone has an opinion about the U.S. presidential election, including Iran’s supreme leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in a speech he gave on Wednesday marking the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In his remarks, Khamenei said Clinton and Trump’s comments in the presidential debates “are sufficient for the annihilation of the reputation of the United States.” ... He also described Americans as “liars, untrustworthy, deceitful and backstabbers” while saying he still opposed any direct negotiations with the U.S. following the nuclear deal. (AP)

10-31-2016
Human Rights

Iran's Islamic Republic has arrested the organizers of a march near the tomb of the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great that attracted thousands of people celebrating the country's pre-Islamic glory.

Iran's Islamic Republic has arrested the organizers of a march last week near the tomb of the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great that attracted thousands of people celebrating the country's pre-Islamic glory. Crowds of mostly young Iranians attended the march near the ancient city of Pasargadae in central province of Fars on Friday to celebrate the day unofficially marked in the Iranian calendar as Cyrus Day. Videos released on social media show them chanting "Iran is our country, Cyrus is our father." Reuters could not independently verify the videos' authenticity. "The main leaders and organizers of this gathering who chanted unconventional slogans against the (Islamic Republic's) values have been arrested," said prosecutor Ali Salehi in the provincial capital Shiraz on Monday, according to Fars news agency. (Reuters)

10-31-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran welcomes the election of Michel Aoun as Lebanon's new president, calling it a victory for the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, Tehran's ally in Lebanon.

Iran welcomed the election of Michel Aoun as Lebanon's new president on Monday, calling it a victory for the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, Tehran's ally in Lebanon. Aoun, a leader of Lebanon's Christian community, secured the post in a parliamentary vote, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum in a deal with Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri, who is now expected to become prime minister. "The election of Michel Aoun as president shows new support for the Islamic resistance (against Israel)," Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top foreign policy adviser, was quoted as saying by Iran's Tasnim news agency. "This is surely a victory for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of (Hezbollah and) Islamic Resistance in Lebanon." ... Iran's President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Aoun, a former army commander, in a phone call, an official in Rouhani's office tweeted, calling it a victory for resistance and for ethnic tolerance in Lebanon. (Reuters)

10-30-2016
Syria Conflict

Mullah Zabihullah, the official spokesman of the “Afghan Taliban” and the second man in the movement reveals the presence of relations and new networks with Iran.

Mullah Zabihullah, the official spokesman of the “Afghan Taliban” and the second man in the movement revealed the presence of relations and new networks with Iran. “The movement is trying to benefit from all legitimate means to reach a regional agreement as part of the war against the American invasion; therefore, the Imara holds ongoing networks with a large number of regional and neighboring states.” He said to the London based Asharq Al-Awsat in an email 18 months ago, that the movement had received drone planes, which help film suicidal operations. (Al Arabiya)

10-27-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthis in Yemen — including coastal defense cruise missiles like the ones that were fired at US Navy ships earlier this month.

U.S. officials tell NBC News that they believe Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthis in Yemen — including coastal defense cruise missiles like the ones that were fired at US Navy ships earlier this month. "We believe that Iran is connected to this," Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan said. The head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, who is tasked with securing the waters off of Yemen, disclosed today that the U.S. and partner nations have intercepted five weapons shipments from Iran that were headed to the Houthis in Yemen... Donegan said the first intercept occurred in April 2015 when seven ships guarded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy attempted to move weapons to Yemen... Donegan believes other shipments from Iran did make it into Yemen and into Houthi hands. "We did not catch or pick up all the ships," he said, adding, "It's fortunate we were able to find [these ships]. There certainly are others." (NBC)

10-26-2016
Military

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards say they have developed a "suicide drone" capable of delivering explosives to blow up targets at sea and on land.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday they had developed a "suicide drone" capable of delivering explosives to blow up targets at sea and on land. The new drone is primarily for maritime surveillance and "has not been designed to be armed with missiles," the Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Guards, reported. "(But) it can carry heavy payloads of explosives for combat missions to launch suicide attacks. "Flying at a high cruising speed near the surface of the water, the aircraft can collide with the target and destroy it, either a vessel or an onshore command centre." (AFP)

10-25-2016
Human Rights

The Baha'i International Community says that Iran's effort to crush the religious minority has continued unabated and intensified on some fronts despite President Hassan Rouhani's promises to end religious discrimination.

The Baha'i International Community said Tuesday that Iran's effort to crush the religious minority has continued unabated and intensified on some fronts despite President Hassan Rouhani's promises to end religious discrimination. In a 122-page report, the community said Rouhani's government has stepped-up its "campaign to incite hatred against Baha'is" including by disseminating more than 20,000 pieces of anti-Baha'i propaganda in the Iranian media. Since Rouhani was inaugurated in August 2013, the report said at least 151 Baha'is have been arrested, and at least 388 incidents of economic discrimination have been documented ranging from threats and intimidation to shop closings. The report also said that under Rouhani, thousands of Baha'is have been blocked from attending universities and 28 followers have been expelled. (AP)

10-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

Robin Shahini, an Iranian-American held in Tehran has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years in prison for “collaboration with a hostile government,” yet another dual national convicted in a secret trial since Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

An Iranian-American held in Tehran has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years in prison for “collaboration with a hostile government,” yet another dual national convicted in a secret trial since Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The sentence handed down to Robin Shahini, a 46-year-old graduate student who lives in San Diego, is the harshest yet for those detained in what analysts believe is hard-liner plan to use them as bargaining chips in future negotiations. Shahini told Vice News in an interview aired late on Monday that he “just laughed” after hearing his sentence. He acknowledged supporting the protests that followed Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, but denied being involved in any sort of spying. “Whatever information they had is all the pictures I posted in Facebook, in my web blog, and they use all those evidence to accuse me,” Shahini said in a telephone call from prison... For Shahini, he said he wasn’t sure whether he’d file an appeal, but said he also had another option to protest his sentence. “I do a hunger strike — until either they free me or I die,” he said. (AP)

10-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. permanent resident who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year says Tehran is demanding a ransom in exchange for his release.

A U.S. permanent resident who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year says Tehran is demanding a ransom in exchange for his release. That demand is likely to rekindle complaints by Republicans that the Obama administration has given an incentive to Iran to take and hold hostages in return for ransom payments, by timing out a $400 million cash payment to Iran in January in order to ensure the release of four hostages... Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and permanent resident of the United States, said through his attorney Tuesday that Iranian officials in April told him it would take as much as $2 billion to ensure his release from captivity. In September, Iranian officials lowered that amount to $4 million, and told him that he was spared the death penalty but would remain in prison for 10 years until the payments is made. (Washington Examiner)

10-25-2016
Anti-Americanism

Secretary of Iran's SNSC Ali Shamkhani says the Iranian nation will not change its anti-Zionist and anti-American attitudes over marginal issues.

Secretary of Iran's SNSC Ali Shamkhani said the Iranian nation will not change its anti-Zionist and anti-American attitudes over marginal issues... Shamkhani referred to guided plots to distract attention from cruelty of the Zionist Regime to terrorism in Islamic countries reiterating “people of Iran would never alter their anti-Zionist and anti-American positioning with minute matters.” (Mehr News

10-24-2016
Human Rights

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, following her arrest today, Amnesty International urged.

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, following her arrest today, Amnesty International urged. Despite the fact that no official summons has been issued, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home was raided this morning by officials, who violently broke through her front door before taking her to Evin Prison in Tehran. It appears that she has been taken to the women’s ward to begin serving her six-year sentence. She has been convicted of charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities,” for writing an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning in Iran. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s husband, Arash Sadeghi, a human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, has since started a hunger strike in protest at her imprisonment. (Amnesty International

10-24-2016
Syria Conflict

IRGC chief commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the Fatehin battalion, reaffirming ongoing plans to establish these units beyond Tehran province and across the country.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) held a commemoration ceremony in Tehran on Friday for members of the Fatehin (“Conquerors”) Special Unit of the Basij paramilitary killed in combat in Syria. IRGC chief commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the Fatehin battalion, reaffirming ongoing plans to establish these units beyond Tehran province and across the country. Jafari told the media that he had given a report to the supreme leader about the expansion of the Fatehin... The Fatehin unit of Qom province held its first drill in September. The drill’s motto was “the path to Jerusalem goes through Karbala,” first proclaimed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, during the Iran-Iraq war... Mehdi Hadavandi, the commander of the Fatehin Basij Tehran unit as well as the unit’s Syria operations, said the IRGC has set up “special courses” for “resistance forces,” which include Iranian as well as proxies, for combat in Iraq and Syria... “Today we are witnessing the formation of the army of the Master of Time [12th Shiite Imam Mahdi who will herald the apocalypse] in Syria,” proclaimed Hadavandi earlier this month at a ceremony for Ashura religious mourning ceremony in Tehran. (Long War Journal

10-24-2016
Extremism

Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says that the fabricated Zionist regime is the rootcause of terrorism in the Middle East region orchestrated by western powers.

Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Monday that the fabricated Zionist regime is the rootcause of terrorism in the Middle East region orchestrated by western powers. Rafsanjani made the remarks in a meeting with visiting Austrian parliament vice-speaker Karlheinz Kopf. Rafsanjani said that nine million Palestinian displaced by the occupying Zionist regime have unclear fate and that the countries which brought Zionists to the Middle East region to get rid of their hardliners and backed the Zionists crimes and atrocities against Palestinian people should take a decisive measures to stop the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians. (IRNA)

10-24-2016
Nuclear Program

Presidential Office Director Mohammad Nahavandian says, Iran has already exported heavy water to the United States and Russia...This means an undisputable victory for Iran in attending the global economy in nuclear energy.

The purity of the heavy water at Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor (aka IR-40) has improved from 75.99 percent to 95.99 percent, said Presidential Office Director Mohammad Nahavandian. Noting that Iran has already exported heavy water to the United States and Russia, the official said plans are made to sell more the product to other countries, the president’s official website reported October 24. “This means an undisputable victory for Iran in attending the global economy in nuclear energy,” he stressed. (Trend News Agency)

10-23-2016
Anti-Americanism

President Rouhani criticizes American democracy, "You see the United States that claims it has had democracy for more than 200 years, look at the country, what the situation is where morality has no place."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday criticized the U.S. presidential candidates' behavior during their recent debates. "Did you see the debate and the way of their speaking, accusing and mocking each other? Do we want such a democracy in our country? Do we want such elections in our country?" Rouhani said, speaking to a crowd in the Iranian city of Arak. "You see the United States that claims it has had democracy for more than 200 years," he said in comments broadcast live by state TV. "Look at the country, what the situation is where morality has no place." Rouhani said that during his September visit to the UN General Assembly, he was asked which of the candidates he preferred. "I said what? Should I prefer bad to worse or worse to bad?" Iran's state TV has broadcast two of the debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in full. It has closely followed the campaign, often highlighting economic and social problems in the U.S. and the most confrontational debate segments. (AP)

10-23-2016
Syria Conflict

Senior military advisor to the supreme leader and former chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces says, the presence of Iranian advisors in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's support for Yemen and Hezbollah, manifested its revolutionary and religious ideology.

Hassan Firouzabadi, senior military advisor to the supreme leader and former chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, told the Iranian Fars news agency that the presence of Iranian advisors in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's support for Yemen and Hezbollah, manifested its revolutionary and religious ideology. He denied, however, that Iran meddled in other countries' internal affairs or sought to extend its territorial control. He confirmed Iran had sent advisors to the Gaza Strip and provided the Palestinians with guidance and technology. (The Mejr Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

 

10-21-2016
Terrorism

The Islamic Jihad Islamist movement staged a public show of force in the Gaza Strip, with its leader praising Iran and criticising Arab states.

The Islamic Jihad Islamist movement staged a public show of force in the Gaza Strip on Friday, with its leader praising Iran and criticising Arab states... Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah spoke via a video link, using his speech to accuse some Arab countries of abandoning the Palestinian cause. "If the Arabs turn their backs on Palestine and embrace Israel, they can no longer condemn the resistance for taking support from Iran," Shalah said, without naming any countries. "(Iran) is the only country which commits to the unending support of the Palestinian cause." (AFP)

10-20-2016
Terrorism

The U.S. Treasury moved to disrupt the fundraising and operation of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, imposing sanctions on four operatives and a firm that have assisted the organization, long seen as a terrorist outfit by Washington.

The U.S. Treasury moved to disrupt the fundraising and operation of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group on Thursday, imposing sanctions on four operatives and a firm that have assisted the organization, long seen as a terrorist outfit by Washington. In a related action, the U.S. State Department sanctioned Hezbollah commander Haytham 'Ali Tabataba'i under U.S. counter-terrorism rules. 'Ali Tabataba'i has commanded Hezbollah special forces, has operated in Syria and has been reported to be in Yemen, the State Department said in a statement. The sanctions prevent U.S. citizens from doing business with the individuals and organization, Global Cleaners SARL. Saudi Arabia joined the United States in imposing sanctions on some of the people, the Treasury Department said in statement. (Reuters)

10-20-2016
Human Rights

The wife of an Iranian-Austrian man sentenced recently by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison on spying charges has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband is a "simple businessman" unjustly imprisoned.

The wife of an Iranian-Austrian man sentenced recently by an Iranian court to 10 years in prison on spying charges has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband is a "simple businessman" unjustly imprisoned. Harika Ghaderi's husband, businessman Kamran Ghaderi, was initially detained in Tehran in January but his conviction and sentence for espionage and cooperation with the United States were revealed earlier this week. "How can they say something like that about Kamran? I don't understand," Ghaderi's wife said, adding that he had no ties to the United States and was not involved in politics... Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on October 18 that the 52-year-old Ghaderi was among six individuals who received 10-year sentences for what he described as spying and working with the hostile government in Washington... Ghaderi is the CEO of Avanoc, an IT management and consulting company that has worked in Iran for many years, his wife told Radio Farda. (RFE/RL)

10-20-2016
Terrorism

Argentina issued another extradition warrant for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.

"Argentina issued another extradition warrant Thursday for an Iranian ex-foreign minister over the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, the government said. Investigating Judge Rodolfo Canicoba asked Baghdad to extradite Ali Akbar Velayati, who is on the Interpol wanted list, since he is currently on Iraqi soil. He asked Iraq to arrest Velayati "in order to extradite him, after learning via the international press that the accused travelled to Baghdad" on Wednesday, the Argentine justice ministry said in a statement. In July Argentina issued a similar warrant to Singapore and Malaysia after learning Velayati was on a lecture tour to those countries. Argentine investigators accuse Velayati and four other Iranian former officials, including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of orchestrating the July 18, 1994 car bombing at the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires." (AFP)

10-20-2016
Syria Conflict

Iran has stepped up weapons transfers to the Houthis, the militia fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen, U.S., Western and Iranian officials tell Reuters, a development that threatens to prolong and intensify the 19-month-old war.

Iran has stepped up weapons transfers to the Houthis, the militia fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen, U.S., Western and Iranian officials tell Reuters, a development that threatens to prolong and intensify the 19-month-old war. The increased pace of transfers in recent months, which officials said include missiles and small arms, could exacerbate a security headache for the United States, which last week struck Houthi targets with cruise missiles in retaliation for failed missile attacks on a U.S. Navy destroyer. Much of the recent smuggling activity has been through Oman, which neighbors Yemen, including via overland routes that take advantage of porous borders between the two countries, the officials said. (Reuters)

10-19-2016
Anti-Americanism

Iran says it will accept no US "interference" after Washington demanded the release of a dual national and his 80-year-old father given 10 year sentences for espionage. Three other Iranian-American dual nationals were also sentenced to 10 years.

"Iran said on Wednesday it would accept no US "interference" after Washington demanded the release of a dual national and his 80-year-old father given 10 year sentences for espionage. The State Department demanded the immediate release of Siamak and Baqher Namazi, both Iranian-American dual nationals, after their sentences were announced on Tuesday. But foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told Iranian media: "The government and the Iranian people give no importance to the statements and interference of American officials and their efforts to divide the ranks of the Iranian people. The American threats only add to the wall of mistrust Iranians have regarding the United States." Washington expressed concern over the health of the elder Namazi, a former UN Children's Fund employee who also served as the governor of an Iranian province before the Islamic revolution of 1979. Both were jailed for 10 years for "espionage and collaboration with the American government", Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolat-Abadi announced on Tuesday. Three other Iranian-American dual nationals -- Farhad Abd-Saleh, Kamran Ghaderi and Alireza Omidvar -- were also sentenced to 10 years on the same charges, along with a US resident from Lebanon, Nezar Zaka." (AFP)

10-19-2016
Anti-Americanism

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East says he suspects Iran is playing a role in recent missile launches by Houthi rebels in Yemen against U.S. ships in the Red Sea.

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said he suspects Iran is playing a role in recent missile launches by Houthi rebels in Yemen against U.S. ships in the Red Sea.  "I do think that Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houthis, so I do suspect there is a role in that," said U.S. Central Command leader Army Gen. Joseph Votel at the Center for American Progress.   It was the closest a U.S. official has come to directly attributing the missile attacks to Iran, which supports the Houthis in their civil war against the embattled regime. Last week, U.S. ships were fired upon at least two times while in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, prompting a U.S. destroyer to destroy three radar sites that U.S. officials say they believe were used in the missile launches. (The Hill)

10-18-2016
Terrorism

Iranian officials maintain that they will continue to fund global terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which are committed to Israel’s destruction, despite objections from the United States.

Iranian officials maintain that they will continue to fund global terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which are committed to Israel’s destruction, despite objections from the United States. “When they ask the foreign minister of America why do you violate your commitments under the JCPOA, they say we have acted on our commitments and even gone further than they require. However, Iranians must do certain things, such as ceasing their support for terrorists and halting their missile activities,” Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s Judiciary, was quoted as saying in Farsi-language reports on Monday. “However, what they mean by terrorists are resistance groups like Hezbollah of Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, which have stood against the violations and crimes of the Zionist regime,” Larijani said. (Washington Free Beacon)

10-18-2016
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian-American businessman and his father have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, the latest dual nationals imprisoned since the nuclear deal.

"An Iranian-American businessman and his father have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, a state-run judicial news agency reported Tuesday, the latest dual nationals imprisoned since the nuclear deal. The announcement by the Mizan news agency came a day after it released footage of businessman Siamak Namazi, a sign of the power still wielded by hard-liners in the Islamic Republic. The Mizan report said Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF representative who once served as governor of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province under the U.S.-backed shah, were convicted of "cooperating with the hostile American government." ... The report also said Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon, also received a 10-year prison sentence. His supporters had earlier told The Associated Press about the sentence, though the Mizan report was the first official Iranian report of it. The report also said two others had been convicted as well, without naming them or identifying their nationalities." (AP)

10-17-2016
Syria Conflict

A prominent Iranian official has boasted that his country interference in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq is in line with objectives to export the “Islamic Revolution” throughout the region.

A prominent Iranian official has boasted that his country interference in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq is in line with objectives to export the “Islamic Revolution” throughout the region. Hassan Fariuzabadi - the military advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said in an interview with semi official news agency, Fars: “We do not interfere and we do not want to expand our territory”, adding: “what is clear is our system is an Islamic revolution”, referring to Ruhollah Khomeini’s declared aim in 1979 of exporting the revolution... In an unprecedented statement, Khamenei Advisor revealed in the interview published Saturday, that his country sent, in the past years, military advisers to Gaza strip and trained the “Palestinian forces.” (Al Arabiya)

10-17-2016
Human Rights

Hard-liners in Iran posted a video online showing a detained Iranian-American businessman for the first time since his arrest in the country a year ago, a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran.

"Hard-liners in Iran posted a video online Monday showing a detained Iranian-American businessman for the first time since his arrest in the country a year ago, a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran. The minute-long video featuring Siamak Namazi, dubbed over with what sounded like a dramatic film score, highlighted recent tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. It also comes as hard-liners in Iran's security forces continue to target dual nationals and anyone with Western ties after the nuclear deal negotiated by the moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani. The montage of clips includes an Iranian drone flying over a U.S. aircraft carrier and American sailors on their knees after being briefly detained by Iran in January. It shows Namazi's U.S. passport, his United Arab Emirates ID card and a clip of him in a conference room, his arms raised at his sides. At the end of the video, it shows a still image of U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House's Foreign Affairs Committee. It quotes a statement by Royce from last year describing Namazi's arrest as "latest show of contempt for America." ... It wasn't clear why hard-liners chose to release the video, which was posted online Monday by Iran's state-run Mizan judicial news agency. However, it comes as Namazi, who earlier advocated for closer ties between Iran and the U.S., faces his one-year anniversary of being detained in Iran." (AP)

 

10-16-2016
Human Rights

Iranian media says authorities have detained 11 members of a "modeling and decadence network."

"Iranian media says authorities have detained 11 members of a "modeling and decadence network." The semi-official Tasnim news agency said Sunday that the network was involved in producing and publishing pornographic pictures on social media. It said authorities shuttered three underground studios used for the purpose. The report said the 11 people detained were "key elements" of the network, which was active in the southeastern city of Zahedan." (AP)

10-16-2016
Anti-Americanism

Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri says, “the US presence in the region is [like] a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the US out of the region."

"Chief spokesman for Iran's Armed Forces says the United States is the most important reason behind all the current problems in the Middle East, stressing that Washington must accept its strategic mistakes and leave the region. “The root cause of all the problems in the West Asia region is the US hegemony,” Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Sunday... “The US presence in the region is [like] a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the US out of the region,” Jazayeri added." (Press TV)

10-15-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the third such incident in the past week.

"A U.S. Navy destroyer was targeted on Saturday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, the third such incident in the past week, U.S. officials said. Multiple surface-to-surface missiles were fired at the USS Mason sailing in international waters in the Red Sea but the warship used on-board countermeasures to defend itself and was not hit, one defense official said, citing initial information. The latest attack could provoke further retaliation by the U.S. military, which launched cruise missiles on Thursday against three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen in response to the two previous failed missile firings against the Mason. "The Mason once again appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea, again from coastal defense cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen," Admiral John Richardson, U.S. chief of naval operations, said during a ship christening in Baltimore on Saturday." (Reuters)

10-13-2016
Military

Russia has completed the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, which has sparked concern in Israel.

"Russia has completed the delivery of S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran, RIA news agency quoted Russia's state arms export agency as saying on Thursday. Russia's agreement to provide Iran with S-300 has sparked concern in Israel. Moscow canceled the contract to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West." (RIA)

10-12-2016
Anti-Americanism

A U.S. warship operating off the coast of Yemen was targeted a second time by what appeared to be Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in southern Yemen.

"A U.S. warship operating off the coast of Yemen was targeted a second time Wednesday by what appeared to be Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in southern Yemen... Officials said the USS Mason, a destroyer, wasn't hit or damaged when two missiles were fired from a Houthi-controlled area known as al-Hudaydah. Iran backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been engaged in a bloody civil war that pits them against a Saudi Arabia-led coalition that is backed by the U.S. It was the second such attempted attack since Sunday, when missiles fired from the same region missed the Mason... Pentagon officials stressed that the Mason was operating in international waters off the Red Sea coast of Yemen about 6 p.m. local time Wednesday when the second attack occurred." (The Wall Street Journal)

 

10-12-2016
Terrorism

The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah vowed to maintain its "jihad" in neighbouring Syria at a huge rally in Beirut, a day after its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the war was in a phase of escalation.

"The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah vowed to maintain its "jihad" in neighbouring Syria at a huge rally in Beirut on Wednesday, a day after its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the war was in a phase of escalation. Addressing thousands marking Shi'ite Islam's annual Ashura religious commemoration in a heavily secured square in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold, Nasrallah said the war in Syria was being fought in defence of the whole region. "We will continue to bear our great responsibilities of jihad there. Your sons are there, and your men, your brothers, your husbands. They are defending their existence, dignity and the resistance," he said... Since Hezbollah's entry into Syria's civil war on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, some 1,500 of its fighters have died, say security sources in Lebanon. These have included about 350 this year; their images, often in heroic pose, are displayed on posters in Shi'ite villages across Lebanon." (Reuters)

10-11-2016
Anti-Americanism

The Pentagon won't rule out that Iranian missiles provided to rebels in Yemen were used to fire upon two U.S. warships in the Red Sea. Capt. Jeff Davis says, "It's no secret that Iran has been actively supplying them and giving them the tools of war."

"The Pentagon won't rule out that Iranian missiles provided to rebels in Yemen were used to fire upon two U.S. warships in the Red Sea on Sunday, spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday. The destroyer USS Mason and amphibious warship USS Ponce were conducting 'routine operations in international waters' in the Red Sea on Sunday night when the first of two cruise missiles was detected heading toward them, Davis said... On Tuesday, Davis confirmed that both missiles were launched from a coastal area of Yemen that is under the control of Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels... Davis said Tuesday that while the Houthis may have obtained advanced weaponry through the facilities they now control in Yemen, the U.S. was not ruling out that the missiles might have come from Iran. 'It's no secret that Iran has been actively supplying them and giving them the tools of war,' Davis said." (Stars & Stripes)

10-09-2016
Syria Conflict

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fire two missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer operating off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.

"Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer operating off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea on Sunday -- though neither missile hit the ship, the Pentagon said in a statement. Though the American warship wasn't struck, the ship was definitely targeted, a U.S. defense official told Fox News. This dramatic escalation comes a week after the U.S. Navy sent warships to the area when a United Arab Emirates flagged auxiliary ship was destroyed off the coast of Yemen by the Houthis. "We assess the missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen," Pentagon spokesman Capt Jeff Davis said. "The United States remains committed to ensuring freedom of navigation everywhere in the world, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our ships and our servicemembers." ... U.S. officials have long accused Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to the Houthis." (Fox News)

 

10-07-2016
Human Rights

The United Nations human rights investigator for Iran called for the immediate release of three Iranians with dual nationality whose health is a matter of concern.

"The United Nations human rights investigator for Iran called on Friday for the immediate release of three Iranians with dual nationality whose health is a matter of concern. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, in particular highlighted the case of the Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in April with her 2-year-old daughter and tried in August. An Iranian revolutionary court sentenced her to five years in prison on charges that remain secret, her family said last month. "Sentencing individuals for charges that are kept secret from defendants and their defense lawyers is a mockery of justice," Shaheed, a former foreign minister of the Maldives, said in a statement. He said her health had "seriously deteriorated" since her arrest." (Reuters)

10-06-2016
Syria Conflict

As Saudi Arabia holds a naval drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a powerful Iranian general has been quoted as suggesting the kingdom's deputy crown prince is so "impatient" he may kill his own father to take the throne.

"As Saudi Arabia holds a naval drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a powerful Iranian general has been quoted as suggesting the kingdom's deputy crown prince is so "impatient" he may kill his own father to take the throne. Harsh rhetoric has been common between the two rivals since January but the remarks by Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani's take things to an entirely different level by discussing Saudi King Salman being killed. Meanwhile, Iran already has warned Saudi Arabia to stay away from its territorial waters as heavily armed Saudi frogmen and warships take part in the Gulf Shield 1 drill across the larger Persian Gulf, adding to the tensions between the two rival Mideast powers." (AP)

10-06-2016
Human Rights

Iranian judges have ordered a young female writer and activist to serve a six-year jail term for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning to death in her country.

"Iranian judges have ordered a young female writer and activist to serve a six-year jail term for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning to death in her country. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call on Tuesday from judicial officials ordering her to Evin prison in Tehran, where her husband, Arash Sadeghi, a prominent student activist, is serving a 19-year sentence.  Ebrahimi Iraee told Voice of America’s Persian network this week that she had been sentenced to five years in prison for insulting Islamic sanctities and one extra year for spreading propaganda against the ruling system." (The Guardian)

10-05-2016
Human Rights

Montreal's Homa Hoodfar says members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard psychologically tortured her during dozens of interrogations over the course of 112 brutal days in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Montreal's Homa Hoodfar says members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard psychologically tortured her during dozens of interrogations over the course of 112 brutal days in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.  They threatened "they would send my dead body back to Canada," the retired Concordia University professor told CBC News in her first interview since her release on Sept. 26… She says the interrogators tried to break her spirit. The worst part, she said, was when they played music from the funeral of her husband, who died in December 2014. They had found the music on Hoodfar's iPad… Hoodfar says she hopes she wasn't traded as part of an embassy deal. "I know that has happened sometimes," she said. "But that's one of the concerns I have." (CBC News)

10-04-2016
Human Rights

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has given a damning assessment of human rights in Iran, highlighting the “alarming rate” of executions and saying little progress has been made under president Hassan Rouhani.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has given a damning assessment of human rights in Iran, highlighting the “alarming rate” of executions and saying little progress has been made under president Hassan Rouhani. In spite of his achievements on the international front, most notably reaching last year’s landmark nuclear deal, Rouhani’s promises of domestic improvements have stalled in the face of resistance from hardliners. Ban’s 19-page report, released this week, says he remains “deeply troubled” by accounts “of executions, floggings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, denial of access to medical care and possible torture and ill-treatment”. (The Guardian)

10-03-2016
Human Rights

Iran's head of Judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, says that the Judiciary has no plans to abolish the death penalty and called on Iranian judicial officials to not hesitate in carrying out the execution sentences for alleged drug offenders.

"Iran's head of Judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, recently said that the Judiciary has no plans to abolish the death penalty and called on Iranian judicial officials to not hesitate in carrying out the execution sentences for alleged drug offenders. Amoli Larijani's official remarks were made on Thursday September 29 in Mashhad, at the 13th annual conference for Iran's revolutionary, military and public courts. According to Iranian state run media, Fars, in his remarks Amoli Larijani referred to drug traffickers as "merchants of death" and rejected calls for the complete abolition of the death penalty for crimes related to drug trafficking." ( Iran Human Rights)

10-03-2016
Human Rights

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government, claiming he was taken hostage and psychologically tortured during his 18 months in prison in an effort by Tehran to influence negotiations.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Iranian government, claiming he was taken hostage and psychologically tortured during his 18 months in prison in an effort by Tehran to influence negotiations for a nuclear agreement with Iran. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, says Rezaian was targeted for arrest to gain advantage in a prisoner exchange and to “extort” concessions from the U.S. government in the multinational talks over lifting sanctions if Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear program. Iranian officials repeatedly told Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who also was detained for more than two months, that Rezaian had “value” as a bargaining chip for a prisoner swap, the suit says... “For nearly eighteen months, Iran held and terrorized Jason for the purpose of gaining negotiating leverage and ultimately exchanging him with the United States for something of value to Iran,” the suit states. (Washington Post)

10-02-2016
Terrorism

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says, “I am happy and proud of the fact that my brothers Qasem Soleimani, Hassan Nasrallah and Ramadan Abdullah [Shalah] contact me every day and thank me for the Islamic Republic's policies..."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared before the Iranian parliament Oct. 2 to address questions about Iran’s diplomatic approach in the aftermath of the nuclear deal. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed with six world powers led to the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions in return for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Javad Karimi Ghodoosi, a member of parliament from the Principlist faction who has been an outspoken critic of Iran’s current government, posed questions that triggered an outburst by Zarif... Voicing his displeasure with Ghodoosi and stressing his ministry’s compliance with the policies of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Zarif replied in a harsh tone, “I am happy and proud of the fact that my brothers Qasem Soleimani, Hassan Nasrallah and Ramadan Abdullah [Shalah] contact me every day and thank me for the Islamic Republic's policies. … So please do not question our foreign policy.” (Al-Monitor)

10-01-2016
Military

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Aerospace Force has released photos of a US drone captured by Iran which is similar to a new attack drone built by Iran's Revolutionary Guard that can carry four precision-guided bombs.

"Iran's Revolutionary Guard has built a new attack drone which is similar to a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle captured five years ago, Iranian media reported on Saturday. The semi-official Tasnim news agency says the "Saegheh" (Thunderbolt) drone is similar to the RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone. Iran's state-run Press TV says the long-range drone can carry four precision-guided bombs. Neither report gave figures for the drone's range. Iran claimed to have shot down an RQ-170 drone used by the Central Intelligence Agency in December 2011 and broadcast footage of the recovered aircraft. It also claims to have captured three American ScanEagle drones. Iran said last year that it had successfully tested its replica of the RQ-170. Also on Saturday, Tasnim published photos of what it said was a U.S.-made MQ-1C drone captured recently by the Guard. It did not say when or how the drone was captured." (AP)

"The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force on Saturday released the first photos of a US drone captured by Iran. According to the IRGC, the photos show an American MQ-1C Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) now in possession of the IRGC forces. It is not clear when exactly the drone has been captured by Iran. The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle attack drone is a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft that is an upgraded MQ-1 Predator as an extended-range multi-purpose UAV." (Tasnim)

09-28-2016
Nuclear Program

A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards says Iran is in possession of missiles that can hit Israel, stating that the “Zionist regime is our biggest target.”

A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Tuesday that Iran is in possession of missiles that can hit Israel. Iran's Press TV quoted Commander of the IRGC's Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh as telling reporters that "we do not need missiles with a range of over 2,000 kilometers. The longest range required for [Iran's] missiles is the [Israeli] occupied lands." The commander warned that "the Zionist regime is our biggest target." (Jerusalem Post)

09-28-2016
Human Rights

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a 16-year sentence for one of Iran’s most prominent women’s rights activists, Narges Mohammadi.

An Iranian appeals court has confirmed a 16-year sentence for one of Iran’s most prominent women’s rights activists, her lawyer said Wednesday. The activist, Narges Mohammadi, 44, a human rights lawyer, has been in and out of jail over the past 15 years and has had several confrontations with Iran’s hard-line dominated judiciary. Her arrest in 2015 and conviction a year later were severe blows to Iran’s small and embattled community of women’s rights activists, highlighting the severe pressures they face. “She has committed no crime and has just been doing her job as a lawyer and citizen,” said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and prominent activist who spent two years in prison but who was granted an early release in 2013. Ms. Sotoudeh characterized her colleague as a law-abiding citizen who defended victims of acid attacks and voted while in prison during the 2015 parliamentary elections. “Every day Narges is behind bars is one too many,” Ms. Sotoudeh said. (The New York Times)

09-26-2016
Human Rights

A Canadian-Iranian retired professor was released from prison on humanitarian grounds" and flown out of Iran ending her months of detention alongside other dual nationals swept up by hard-liners in the security services.

A Canadian-Iranian retired professor was released from prison on "humanitarian grounds" and flown out of Iran on Monday, Iran's state-run news agency said, ending her months of detention alongside other dual nationals swept up by hard-liners in the security services. Homa Hoodfar was flown to the Arab Gulf nation of Oman, the brief report from the IRNA news agency said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed her release in a statement, thanking Italy, Switzerland and Oman for their help in the matter. Hoodfar, 65, was questioned and barred from leaving Iran in March after traveling to the country to visit family following the death of her husband. Her family said she has been held in Tehran's Evin Prison since June. Hoodfar until recently taught anthropology and sociology at Montreal's Concordia University. In July, Iran announced indictments for Hoodfar and three others, without providing any details about the accusations. In recent weeks, Hoodfar's supporters described her health as deteriorating while she was in solitary confinement, saying she was "barely able to walk or talk." (AP)

 

09-26-2016
Syria Conflict

As many as 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters have arrived in Aleppo supporting the Syrian regime in its fight to crush the rebellion.

As deadly airstrikes pounded Aleppo, Syria over the weekend, a major foreign ground force was also converging on the region. As many as 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters have arrived in Aleppo supporting the Syrian regime in its fight to crush the rebellion, two U.S. officials confirm to Fox News. There are an estimated 250,000 Syrian civilians trapped in Aleppo facing an onslaught of Russian and Syrian bombs, according to reports. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias include fighters from neighboring Iraq as well as Afghanistan, officials say. Many of those fighters had already been in Syria but recently descended on Aleppo. (Fox News)

09-25-2016
Nuclear Program

Iran’s Defense Ministry has released a video of the latest homegrown ballistic missile, Zolfaqar, being launched and hitting a target.

Iran's Defense Ministry on Sunday released video of the latest homegrown ballistic missile, Zolfaqar, being launched and hitting a target. The video shows Zolfaqar moving upward with a thick vapor trail and then detonating a target in the middle of a desert area. Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan inaugurated the mass production line of the tactical ballistic missile. Zolfaqar runs on solid fuel and can hit targets with pin-point accuracy in a range of 750 kilometers. (Tasnim)

09-23-2016
Anti-Americanism

An Iranian general in charge of the Islamic Republic’s air defense says his forces warned off an American U2 spy plane trying to fly over his country.

An Iranian general in charge of the Islamic Republic’s air defense says his forces warned off an American U2 spy plane trying to fly over his country. Iranian state television broadcast the comments by Gen. Farzad Esmaili on Friday, saying the incident happened “in recent days.” Esmaili said the plane flew away, without elaborating on where the aircraft attempted to enter Iranian airspace. (AP)

09-23-2016
Human Rights

An advocacy group has called for the immediate release of two Iranian journalists detained in Tehran.

An advocacy group has called for the immediate release of two Iranian journalists detained in Tehran. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement early Friday highlighting the cases of Sadra Mohaqeq, an editor at the pro-reform daily newspaper Shargh, and Yashar Soltani, who writes for the news website Memari News. Sherif Mansour of the committee says the reporters' detention shows, "whether journalists are advocating for national political reform or reporting on a local land deal, they are not safe from Iranian prisons." (AP)

09-22-2016
Human Rights

A prisoner is publicly executed in a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz in southern Iran.

A prisoner sentenced to public execution for rape and murder was hanged in public at a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz (Fars province, southern Iran) on the morning of Thursday September 22. According to Iranian state run news agency Mehr, quoting the press department of the Judiciary in Fars, a prisoner identified as "Saeed T." was hanged in public on the morning of Thursday September 22 at a sports stadium in the city of Neyriz. Photos of this public hanging shows that at least one child was present and watching the execution. This is not the first time that Iranian authorities have used a sports stadium to carry out an execution. In 2013, after learning about a public execution carried out in a sports stadium in northeastern Iran, FIFA issued a warning to Iranian officials and called on them to ensure that the act is not repeated. (Iran Human Rights)

 

09-22-2016
Human Rights

Women in Iran have been posting photos on social media of themselves riding bicycles, defying a fatwa forbidding them from cycling in public.

Women in Iran have been posting photos on social media of themselves riding bicycles, defying a fatwa forbidding them from cycling in public. It had been understood women that could cycle as long as religious concerns were respected. But when asked recently, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said women were not allowed to cycle in public or in the presence of strangers... A video a mother and daughter filmed of themselves cycling in Iran has had 98,000 views since it was posted on My Stealthy Freedom's Facebook page on Monday. Campaign founder Masih Alinejad, who is based in New York, said: "They told me that they are not going to give up because they think biking is their absolute right. "It is absolutely shameful to hear such a backward fatwa against women in the 21st Century. (BBC)

 

09-22-2016
Syria Conflict

Abandoning a long-standing reticence, Iranians are increasingly candid about their involvement in Syria's war, and informal recruiters are now openly calling for volunteers to defend the Islamic Republic and fellow Shi'ites against Sunni militants.

Abandoning a long-standing reticence, Iranians are increasingly candid about their involvement in Syria's war, and informal recruiters are now openly calling for volunteers to defend the Islamic Republic and fellow Shi'ites against Sunni militants. With public opinion swinging behind the cause, numbers of would-be fighters have soared far beyond what Tehran is prepared to deploy in Syria… Once Tehran described these forces as military "advisers" but with around 400 killed on the battlefield, this discretion has slipped and several thousand are now believed to be fighting Islamic State and other groups trying to topple Assad. Many Iranians initially opposed involvement in the war, harbouring little sympathy for Assad. But now they are warming to the mission, believing that Islamic State is a threat to the existence of their country best fought outside Iran's borders. Iran alludes to its fighters in Syria as "defenders of the shrine", a reference to the Sayeda Zeinab mosque near Damascus, which is where a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad is said to be buried, as well as other shrines revered by Shi’ites. It is casting its recruitment net wide. As well as Iranians, it has gathered Shi'ites from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to battle the Syrian opposition in what has become a sectarian conflict. Fighters killed in Syria are praised as heroes on state television and given lavish funerals. Iranian wrestler Saeed Abdevali dedicated the bronze medal he won at the Rio Olympics to the families of "defenders of the shrine" who have been killed. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the wars in Syria and Iraq, where Iranian-backed authorities are also fighting Sunni militants, as crucial to the survival of the Islamic Republic. If Iranians had not gone and died fighting there, "the enemy would enter the country", he said. (Reuters)

09-21-2016
Extremism

Iran unveiled a new missile carried by a military truck which bore a banner printed with a 2013 anti-Israeli quote by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that Iran will annihilate the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa should Israel attack Iran.

Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces said Wednesday a $38 billion aid deal between the United States and Israel makes Iran more determined to strengthen its military… During a separate parade Wednesday in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Iran unveiled a new missile, known as Zolfaghar. It was carried by military truck which bore a banner printed with a 2013 anti-Israeli quote by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that Iran will annihilate the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa should Israel attack Iran. (AP)

09-21-2016
Military

Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf.

Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf. At a parade in Tehran on Wednesday, shown on state TV, the military displayed long-range missiles, tanks, and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system. At the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf, the navy showed off 500 vessels, as well as submarines and helicopters, at a time of high tension with the United States in the strategic waterway. U.S. officials say there have been more than 30 close encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels in the Gulf so far this year, over twice as many as in the same period of 2015. (Reuters)

09-20-2016
Human Rights

A U.S. permanent resident detained for a year in Iran over spying allegations has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine.

A U.S. permanent resident detained for a year in Iran over spying allegations has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine, his supporters said Tuesday, the latest move in a crackdown on those with foreign ties following last year's nuclear deal. The sentence for Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen who advocates for internet freedom and whose nonprofit group did work for the U.S. government, comes as Iranian officials attend the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York. It also shows the challenge faced by Western governments and those wanting warmer ties with Iran, where hard-liners in the security forces and judiciary target dual nationals and others in secret trials. "There's no regard for any international order, any international agreement or any international state of relations that they care about," said David Ramadan, a former Virginia state legislator who co-founded a group called Friends of Nizar Zakka. A statement early Tuesday from Jason Poblete, a U.S. lawyer representing Zakka, said a Revolutionary Court in Tehran handed down the sentence in a 60-page verdict that Zakka's supporters have yet to see. (AP)

09-20-2016
Nuclear Program

North Korea says it successfully tested a high-powered rocket engine for launching satellites. The description of the new engine matched that of a rocket booster the U.S. has alleged Pyongyang was collaborating on with Iran.

North Korea said it had successfully tested a high-powered rocket engine for launching satellites, elevating concerns it is making progress in developing a long-range ballistic missile. The description of the new engine matched that of a rocket booster the U.S. has alleged Pyongyang was collaborating on with Iran, experts said, indicating the North Korean technology might be shared with Tehran... The description of the engine also indicated it may be the same as a rocket booster that North Korea has allegedly worked on with Iran. In January, U.S. Treasury sanctioned two Iranian officials who it said had traveled to Pyongyang with engineers in recent years to jointly develop an 80-ton rocket booster. “It’s one and the same,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute, adding that a rocket engine of that size would represent an upgrade to Iran’s current capabilities. (WSJ)

09-19-2016
Human Rights

Sadra Mohaghegh, the social affairs editor of the reformist Shargh newspaper, was arrested on September 19, 2016. “S-M” had been detained by “one of the security agencies” for working with “anti-revolutionary” media outlet.

Sadra Mohaghegh, the social affairs editor of the reformist Shargh newspaper, was arrested on September 19, 2016, but the circumstances surrounding his arrest and the charges against him are unclear, according to his lawyer. The arrest comes on the heels of an international tour by President Hassan Rouhani that will end at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he will have a press conference on September 22. The semi-official Mehr News Agency reported on September 19 that a newspaper editor identified as “S-M” had been detained by “one of the security agencies” for working with “anti-revolutionary” media outlets. Later that day, Shargh confirmed Mohaghegh’s arrest via its Twitter account. Mohaghegh is well known for his reports on environmental issues and informative social media postings; a few hours after his arrest, his Twitter and Facebook accounts became inaccessible. He was briefly arrested on two previous occasions, in 2012 and 2013, but was never prosecuted. (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)